October 12, 2009 Monday

Oct 12, 2009
British state assets selloff
Mr Brown told economists in central London that they have listed a number of assets that are determined to be put into the market place over the next period of time. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON - PRIME Minister Gordon Brown on Monday announced a massive 16-billion-pound sell-off of state assets including the Channel Tunnel rail link, to cut debt and help pull Britain out of a deep recession.

'We plan a sale of assets to deal with our debt issues and ... 16 billion (pounds) of assets will be sold within the next two years,' Mr Brown told economists in central London. 'We have listed a number of assets that we are determined over the next period of time to put into the market place.

'That includes the student loan book, the Channel Tunnel rail link, that includes Urenco - subject to security issues being addressed - and that also includes the Tote, other facilities, and the property portfolio that will be announced.'

The planned series of disposals - including the 33 per cent stake in European uranium corsortium Urenco and the Tote bookmakers - would raise around 16 billion pounds (S$35.3 billion).

Britain's public finances have ballooned under the weight of an expensive bailout of the troubled banking sector. The public deficit is widely forecast to strike 175 billion pounds this year as the nation's finances also buckle amid a fierce recession, which has slashed taxation revenues.

Mr Brown wants to halve Britain's deficit over the next four years and is bidding to reclaim the initiative for his governing Labour Party. -- AFP

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