About $900 million worth of sell-offs were expected to be approved at a meeting of the government’s Higher Privatisation Board on 20 March, chaired by Prime Minster Necmettin Erbakan. Negotiated by the Privatisation Administration since 1 January, they include three banks formed from Etibank, cement plants and ports.

The board was also expected to forge ahead with plans for an ambitious programme of sales intended to net $5,000 million in revenues in 1997. The largest sale will be part of Turk-Telekomunikasyon (Turk-Telekom), following the signing on 14 March of an advisory contract with a consortium led by Goldman Sachs. The initial offering of about 15 per cent is expected by the government to fetch an estimated

$3,500 million in early1998.

The Goldman Sachs consortium was one of six ventures returning bids for the advisory contract in November (MEED 10:1:97). It also includes UBS, Lazard Freres, Barclays Bank, Global Securities and Garanti Investment Bank. The consortium will prepare Turk-Telekom’s financial statements to international standards, report on its structure, and recommend sales strategies.

The board meeting was also expected to open the way for other long-awaited sales. These include refineries and a refined products distributor, valued at a combined $3,000 million; shares in state petrochemical combine Petkim; and a block sale valued at about $300 million of most of the government’s 51.66 per cent stake in the Eregli Iron & Steelworks (Erdemir).

If approved, the deals will be a significant milestone for the privatisation programme. Privatisation revenues in the 10 years to the end of 1996 only amounted to $3,100 million.