Libya plans to sell shares in four state companies in initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2010, including two telecom firms, an iron and steel company and a bank, the chairman of the Libyan Stock Market said on Sunday.
The country will also enact a law in 2010 offering tax breaks to companies listing on the exchange in an attempt to get more Libyans to invest in the country, said Soliman Shehoumi, speaking at a news conference in Tripoli.
We have an important programme to help the country's privatisation plans and to widen the ownership base through listings on the market and IPOs, he said. I think we have succeeded over the past period.
Libya, home to Africa's biggest proven oil reserves, has attracted a wave of investment since international sanctions were lifted in 2004, but not on the stock exchange.
The exchange now has 10 listed companies, mostly banks and insurance companies, but also a tobacco company and a cement company.
Shares worth about 2.1 million dinars ($1.75 million) traded in October, a Libyan Stock Market report said.
The trading volume remains small because we are still at the start, but I expect that with new regulations ... the Libyan stock market will become one of the most active in North Africa and the Arab region, said Seleem Naas, chairman of Libyan brokerage Sarab Foreign Exchange and Financial Services.
Up for sale in the IPOs are shares in the government's two mobile telephone operators al Madar and Libyana, as well as in Iron and Steel Company and National Commercial Bank.
Shehoumi did not say what percentage of shares in the four companies would be sold on the bourse.
The sale of National Commercial Bank shares was delayed from this year, he said. Central bank Governor Farhat Omar Bin Guidara said earlier this year that the government would sell a 15 percent stake in the bank worth 50 million dinars in 2009.
The government sold 15 percent of Al Joumhouriya Bank, the country's biggest state bank by assets, on the exchange earlier this year.
A Nov. 15 statement posted on the Libyan Stock Market website said 5 percent of each of the telecom companies were expected to be offered.
Earlier this year, the Libyan government opened bidding to foreign investors for a mobile telephone licence.
(Writing by Patrick Werr; Editing Bernard Orr)
($1=1.2063 Libyan dinars)