Georgia is ready to privatize its major power plants, the government has said. It will either sell the stations or offer majority stakes, with management control, to private sector companies. The deals, involving 11 power plants, will run for 25 years.

Bids for the plants have to be submitted by 20 August. They have to satisfy investment obligations and include development programmes. The winning bidders will be announced before 20 September. The government has appointed Merrill Lynch as its privatization consultant.

Under the management control option, a company would take a 75 per cent stake in a power plant for 25 years. Since 1993 the government has sold more than 12 000 small and medium-sized state-controlled companies.

Georgia began to privatize its power sector in 1998 following a plan developed by Merrill Lynch. The plan envisages the privatization of the entire Georgian distribution network and the merging of the distribution companies into three independent companies supplying Western Georgia, Eastern Georgia and the Adzharian autonomous region. In 1998 the government sold a 75 per cent stake in the power distribution company Telasi to a US company.