Yushchenko Vetoes Law Barring Privatization Of Big Steel Factory

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday vetoed a law that would have barred the government from selling Nikopol steel factory to the private sector.

The Nikopol Plant

Yushchenko sent the bill back to parliament, which now would have to amass 300 votes to override the presidential veto.

Earlier this month, some 287 lawmakers voted to include the Nikopol factory on a list of enterprises that cannot be privatized.

The mill was returned to the state in January when Ukraine Supreme Court ruled that its 2003 sale to Viktor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of former President Leonid Kuchma, was illegal. Yushchenko had called for the mill to be put up for sale in an open auction in the hope of repeating last year's highly profitable sale of another giant steel mill, Kryvorizhstal.

Kryvorizhstal was snapped up by Mittal Steel last year for 24.2 billion hryvnas (US$4.8 billion, -4.1 billion) in Ukraine's biggest and most profitable privatization auction. The price was nearly six times what it initially was sold for under Kuchma in a deal later canceled as illegal.

Yushchenko said that parliament's move to bar the privatization of Nikopol was illegal because the Cabinet was not involved in the decision and the factory's activity did not put it under the category of those businesses which must be owned by the state.

Source: AP