The government expects to raise $600 million by selling a minimum of 250 million shares of Habib Bank Ltd next month, said a report by Bloomberg on Monday. The government owns 609 million shares or 42 per cent stake in the bank.

Privatisation Commission Chairman Mohammad Zubair told Bloomberg that the decision on the discount of the shares would be taken just before the actual sale in late March. “People are taking much more interest because the government is coming up with transactions every two months,” Zubair was quoted as saying.

The government had sold a stake in the United Bank Ltd at a seven per cent discount last June and shares in Allied Bank Ltd at a three per cent discount in December, he added.

The sales are part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plan to raise $2 billion in the year ending June 30 in an effort to meet conditions attached to a $6.6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

After the stake sale, the government will invite bids for the sale of nine state-owned power distribution companies which is intended to be completed by June 2016, followed by the sale of a stake in the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by March 2016.

Pakistani and Chinese companies are among those that have expressed interest in the power distribution companies as there is a known demand, said Zubair.

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