25 January 2006


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Business Today



Libya paves the way for wide privatisation programme

Karl Schembri

Libya has launched a wide-ranging privatisation process that is expected to attract multinational attention in the takeover of former national companies starting with Libyan Arab Airlines, but monies that may be due to Maltese companies are still unquantified.
The Libyan national airline has in fact been dissolved and replaced by a new company called Libyan Airlines Company, which will hold 49 per cent government shareholding and the rest “being sold to private individuals and organisations”, according to The Tripoli Post.
The Libyan government will hold its share of the airline through the National Investment Company (NIC), the Libyan Company for Foreign Investment (LAFICO) and the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank.
Libyan Arab Airlines and other Libyan state companies up for privatisation are believed to owe funds to Maltese companies although the exact global amount remains unknown.
Other Libyan companies that are about to be privatised include the Libyan-Maltese Company for Industrial Development, the General Company for Tasharukiats Requirements, and the Mediterranean Company for Woods.
Despite its name, the Libyan-Maltese Company for Industrial Development no longer holds Maltese interests since the divestment of Maltese shareholding.
Meanwhile Libya is also attracting worldwide attention in oil exploration and extraction. ConocoPhillips and joint venture partners Marathon Oil Corp. and Ameranda-Hess Corp. have reached an agreement with the National Oil Company to return to their former oil and gas exploration and production operations prior to their dismissal in the wake of Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s coup.
The sites located in the Sirte Basin currently produce around 350,000 barrels of oil per day in one of the most productive oil and gas regions of Libya with a considerable amount of undeveloped oil and gas resources.
Another US gas company, Exxon Mobil Corp., announced in December that it will start an exploration and production sharing project with Libyan National Oil, marking Exxon’s re-entry in the Libyan market since leaving in the early eighties.
In the meantime, Libya is planning to open its first stock market in a bid to accelerate economic development and reforms, particularly privatisation.

kschembri@mediatoday.com.mt



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