The privatisation programme will accelerate rapidly with sales of a refined products distributor, a petrochemical combine and a refinery as soon as possible, the new chairman of the Privatisation Administration (OIB), Ugur Bayar, says. At least two of these major deals should be in place during the next 10 weeks to revive the programme, Bayar says.

The programme fell victim to procedural hurdles and political uncertainty in 1995.

The government is expecting to raise about $500 million from the recent privatisation of cement factories, leaving only two in state hands, compared with 29 seven years previously.

The government expects to raise $200 million-300 million from the sale of refined products distributor Petrol Ofisi (POAS), and $1,000 million each from the petrochemical combine Petkim, and one of four refineries presently operated by the Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (Tupras), industry sources say.

The OIB would start first with a public offering, increasing the present 7 per cent open to the public in POAS to foreign and domestic investors, followed by a second offering to small investors or a sale to a strategic investor, administration officials say.

The refinery put on the block would be one of three operated by Tupras, respectively at Aliaga near Izmir, at Izmit, and the Central Anatolian Refinery (CAR) at Kirikkale, near Ankara. Eventually all three will be sold, but a fourth at Batman is considered too old to attract investors.

However, industry sources say the government will have to give investors some assurance of independent pricing, free of political control.

Valuation of state concerns also remains a problem given the volatility of the Istanbul Stock Exchange where some state concerns are already listed, industry sources say.

Petkim’s market capitalisation, according to the 3 per cent of shares already traded on the exchange, has fallen to about $1,400 million from about $3,000 million at the start of 1996.