PAKISTAN Railways is to be divided into four state-owned corporations next month, ready for privatisation from June. Rail Passenger Corp, Railways Infrastructure, Rail Freight Corp and Railways Mechanical Works Corp will be auctioned separately during the second half of this year.

The existing Pakistan Railways Board has been split away from the Ministry of Railways and restructured as a holding company (RG 1.98 p8). The ministry will be merged into a new Ministry of Transport & Communications, and a Railway Regulatory Authority will oversee the privatised companies.

Towards the end of 1997, the government appointed three consultants to assist with the privatisation: Hickling Transcom of Canada, Linklaters & Paines of Great Britain and CIE Consult of Ireland. Together with specialist financial advisors to be appointed in January, the consultants will structure the sale, advertise the four businesses in the international capital market, and manage the prequalification and bidding process. o