Iran Sells 18% of Saipa Automaker to Employee Fund

Iran’s government sold 18 percent of its stake in the automaker Saipa to a fund for the company’s employees, the Tehran Stock Exchange said. The shares sold for $1.6 billion after 20 days of bidding, the exchange said.

Omrane Fars Brokerage, based in Tehran, completed the deal, Ali Shourvarzi, a spokesman for the exchange, said in a telephone interview today from the capital. Thirty percent of the transaction will be paid in advance and the rest in installments, the exchange said on its website.

“This is the biggest sale of the year of a company by the government,” said Mahdi Azadvari, a broker for the Bourse Bimeh Iran Brokerage, said in a telephone interview from Tehran. He said the closing bid was 8,460 rials (85 cents) per share, almost three times the original offer.

“This is not the best approach to privatization -- the state assets were sold to Saipa’s own staff,” Azadvari said. “The price of shares is too high. With this price, new technology could have been brought into the market.”

Calls seeking comment from the government’s Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran, which controls Saipa, weren’t answered.

Tehran Stock Exchange’s index closed at 15,360 today. The total value of companies listed on the exchange was 732 trillion rials.

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