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2009/07/31 16:22 KST
S. Korea to sell 9 public companies by year's end

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to sell nine state-run companies by the end of this year as part of efforts to enhance business efficiency in the nation's public sector, the finance ministry said Friday.

   The move comes after the government unveiled plans last year to sell its stakes in a total of 24 public enterprises in order to help reform the public sector.

   The nine firms whose stakes will be sold by the year's end include Korea Real Estate, Grand Korea Leisure Co., Farmland Improvement & Modernization, Investment & Trust, Korea District Heating Corp. and Korea Power Engineering Co., according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

   Of them, the finance ministry said that it has completed selection of preferred negotiating partners for two companies.

   The ministry added it aims to privatize eight other companies including Korea Housing Guarantee and Incheon International Airport Corp. after the year 2010.

   For Korea Development Bank, the Industrial Bank of Korea and their five subsidiaries, the ministry will determine when to sell its stakes by "reflecting market conditions."

   The privatization plan is part of government efforts to enhance business efficiency in the public sector, which has frequently come under fire for its lax management and foot-dragging in instituting reforms.

   Public-sector reform is one of President Lee Myung-bak's campaign pledges. The government earlier announced a large-scale workforce reduction among public organizations.