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Court Reverses State Sale Of Major Ukrainian Steelmaker

Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko (in file photo) said thousands of state sales will be scrutinized 17 February 2005 -- A Ukrainian court today ruled that the privatization of the country's largest steel enterprise, Kryvorizhstal, was illegal.

The decision paves the way for the 2004 sale -- for a reported $800 million to a domestic consortium called Investment Metallurgical Union -- to be annulled.

The reversal was announced one day after Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko said the government plans to review thousands of privatizations carried out by governments that served under former President Leonid Kuchma.

The decision, made by a tribunal in Kiyv, reverses a court ruling from August declaring that the sale of the Kryvorizhstal plant had taken place legally.

On 12 February, Tymoshenko had said that Kryvorizhstal -- considered a strategically important factory -- will be returned to state control "in the coming weeks."

President Viktor Yushchenko, who took office following several rounds of bitterly contested voting that sparked the country's Orange Revolution and named ally Tymoshenko to her post, campaigned on a reform platform that included combating rampant corruption.

A Dutch-U.S. consortium had competed in the tender for Kryvorizhstal, reportedly bidding some $1.5 billion for the Ukrainian steelmaker.