October 17, 2017 / 1:03 PM / 8 months ago

Finnish government looks to list drinks company Altia

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The Finnish government is set to press ahead with a stock market listing of state-owned alcoholic drinks company Altia to help boost its growth.

The likely flotation is part of the center-right coalition’s plan to sell shares in state-owned companies worth about 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion) by 2018.

Known for its Koskenkorva vodka brand, Altia generated sales of 357 million euros last year. It has recently acquired cognac brands Larsen, Renault and Xante.

“The company is in a good shape now, the market is favorable and this is politically manageable... it is very likely that this leads to an IPO,” said Eero Heliovaara, Director General of the Finnish Government Ownership Steering Department.

The government said it would retain a stake of at least one third in Altia after a possible listing on the Helsinki bourse. The review is expected to be finished in the first half of 2018.

Privatization is a sensitive topic in Finland and pressure from labor unions has limited sell-offs in recent years. The state owns stakes in 14 of the Helsinki market’s listed firms, as well as 55 other companies.

The Altia plan was no surprise after parliament in 2014 scrapped a clause obliging the state to hold a majority stake in the firm.

The government has so far sold its stake in waste treatment company Ekokem for 198 million euros, and it has recently sought a mandate to cut its stake in refiner Neste (NESTE.HE).

The government has also said that mail and delivery company Posti is another possible privatization target.

($1 = 0.8507 euros)

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Keith Weir

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