Venezuela puts 10 pct share of top state bank up for sale

CARACAS, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's government on Wednesday officially put up for sale up to 10 percent of the shares of the country's top state-owned Bank of Venezuela (BDV).

The Ministry of Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade said in a statement it is a "first step" to offering private national and international investors the opportunity to buy stock in public companies through the stock market.

"The public offer of 5 percent to 10 percent progressively of the BDV's share capital will allow all citizens who wish to participate in the success of a solid public company," the ministry said.

"The Bank of Venezuela shows 169 percent growth in the public's deposits and has more than 15 million customers," it added.

According to the ministry, the bank is "the top profit-making bank ... in the National Financial System."

On May 11, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the government would sell between 5 and 10 percent of shares in several state-run companies "for fundamentally national, or international, investment."

Maduro mentioned companies in such areas as telecommunications, petrochemicals, gas and oil, and mining could be opened up to investment.

The shares of Venezuelan state-owned companies have increased in value since the May 11 announcement, the head of the Bicentennial Public Stock Exchange, Rodolfo Medina, said Wednesday.

Shares of telecommunications company CANTV rose in value by 342.20 percent in the 13-day period following the announcement, Medina said in an interview with the state-owned Venezuelan television network.

According to Medina, the rise in share values signalled that "the market welcomes" the decision.

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