According to head of the Ukrainian State Property Fund (SPF), Alexander Ryabchenko, the starting price for the privatisation of a government-held 92.8% stake in Ukrtelecom will be set at UAH10.5 billion (USD1.3 billion), with the final price not expected by analysts to rise above UAH12 billion-UAH13 billion if a planned auction goes ahead in the next few months. The figure is lower than the UAH12 billion predicted by the SPF at the beginning of September, although at the time it was noted that the fixed line, broadband and 3G mobile network operator’s market capitalisation stood at around UAH10.6 billion, which is more in line with the most recently announced floor bid level. The government approved the privatisation of the national PTO Ukrtelecom via a Cabinet of Ministers edict passed on 27 September, and the latest announcement added a timeframe to the proposal, with an auction to be held within 75 days of the official publication of the decision. The announcement, including approval of auction conditions, will be published shortly in the national gazette, the SPF added. Yegor Samusenko, analyst with Concorde Capital Investment Company, stated that if the government can implement a universal service fund to subsidise Ukrtelecom’s rollouts – one of the snagging points for privatisation – prior to the auction, this could increase the value of the operator by around UAH1 billion.