The German government has announced that it will postpone an initial listing of shares in the national railway Deutsche Bahn "for at least several weeks," a source close to the matter said on Thursday.
According to a press report released earlier in the day, turbulence on equity markets caused by the international financial crisis prompted the delay of the sale of a 24.9 percent stake, in what is set to be the last major privatisation in Europe's biggest economy.
Deutsche Bahn was to list a 24.9 percent stake in its freight and passenger unit on the stock market on October 27. But unnamed financial sources quoted by the Financial Times Deutschland's online edition said the initial public offering (IPO) will now not take place until November at the earliest.
The government was hoping to generate some five or six billion euros (seven or eight billion dollars) from the sale and chief executive Hartmut Mehdorn had already begun talking to potential investors in London and Moscow, the FTD said.
However, there have been sharp falls in stock markets in recent days due to the international financial crisis. The government is now worried that it would not get as much money as it hoped and that it would be better to wait for markets to recover.
German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck conceded on Monday that the turbulence might force the listing to be postponed.
"We have to ask ourselves if the timing is right," Steinbrueck told reporters, noting "very unfavourable conditions in the market."