[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 17 February, 2005, 13:10 GMT
Ukraine steel sell-off 'illegal'
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko
Mr Yushchenko is keen to attract fresh investment
The controversial sell-off of a Ukrainian steel mill to a relative of the former president was illegal, a court has ruled.

The mill, Krivorizhstal, was sold in June 2004 for $800m (424m) - well below other offers.

President Viktor Yushchenko, elected in December, is planning to revisit many of Ukraine's recent privatisations.

Krivorizhstal is one of dozens of firms which he says were sold cheaply to friends of the previous administration.

Growing list

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said as many as 3,000 firms could be included on the list of firms whose sale was being reviewed.

Mr Yushchenko had previously said the list would be limited to 30-40 enterprises.

More than 90,000 businesses in all, from massive corporations to tiny shopfronts, have been sold off since 1992, as the command economy built up when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union was dismantled.

Analysts have suggested that the government needs to avoid the impression of an open-ended list, so as to preserve investor confidence.

Consortium

Thursday's ruling by a district court in Perchesk overturned a previous decision in a lower court permitting the sale.

The consortium which won the auction for the mill was created by Viktor Pinchuk, son-in-law of former-President Leonid Kuchma, and Rinat Akhmetov, the country's richest man.

The next step is for the supreme court to annul the sale altogether, opening the way for Krivorizhstal to be resold.

Mr Yushchenko has suggested a fair valuation could be as much as $3bn.

One of the foreign bidders who lost out, steel giant LNM, told BBC News that it would be interested in any renewed sale.


SEE ALSO:
Ukraine revisits state sell-offs
16 Feb 05 |  Business
Ukraine to annul steel firm sale
07 Feb 05 |  Business
Profile: Viktor Yushchenko
23 Jan 05 |  Europe
A nasty business in Ukraine
16 Jun 04 |  Business
Scandal over Ukraine steel sale
14 Jun 04 |  Business


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific