KARACHI (AFX) – The government has asked bidders for a 51% stake in Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to present their final offers on April 26. PSO controls 70% of the domestic petroleum market.

The Kuwait Petroleum Co, Midrock of Saudi Arabia and the domestic Fauji Foundation have emerged as the main bidders.

In the six months to end-Dec, 2002, PSO’s profits increased five-fold to 2.06 billion rupees (US$35.5 billion).

PSO shares have fallen on the Karachi Stock Exchange amid apprehension that the privatisation timetable would be delayed.

Investors became jittery when there was no statement from the commission before the close of trade, said head of research at InvestCap, Mohammad Sohail.