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Kuwait Airways to go private, country seeks bids

The privatisation committee of Kuwait Airways said interested parties should submit an 'expression of interest' to participate in the bidding for 35 per cent of the airline.

twitter-logoPTI | August 3, 2011 | Updated 13:19 IST

Kuwait on Tuesday invited bids from local and international investors to buy a stake in Kuwait Airways as part of a privatisation process to turn the loss-making airline into a profitable venture.

The privatisation committee of Kuwait Airways said in a statement that interested parties should submit an 'expression of interest' to participate in the bidding for 35 per cent of the airline.

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The process, open to companies listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange and specialised international companies, closes on August 25. Local airline operators are banned from taking part.

Kuwait Airways has posted a loss in all but one of the past 21 years, accumulating losses of more than $2.7 billion. The airline has an ageing fleet of 15 Airbus and two Boeing aircraft .

The privatisation committee has been formed to transform state-owned Kuwait Airways Corp into a private company and to transfer the assets, liabilities, rights and benefits from KAC in accordance with a law passed in January 2008.

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International firms have valued the assets of Kuwait Airways at $800 million (220 million dinars Kuwaiti dinars).

The airline's privatisation law stipulates the sale of 35 per cent of the private company to a strategic investor and 40 per cent to be sold to Kuwaiti citizens in an initial public offering.

Another 5 per cent per cent will be granted to Kuwaiti employees, while the remaining 20 per cent will be held by the Kuwait Investment Authority, the OPEC member sovereign wealth fund.

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Kuwait, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, is on a drive to boost its private sector and become a regional financial centre. At present, its economy is largely dependent on oil revenues and driven by government spending.

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