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State ditches consulting firm over information leak

On Tuesday the Cabinet of Ministers decided to break the contract with the Prudentia consulting firm that was tasked with finding an investor to the airBaltic national airline, reports Madara Fridrihsone from Latvian Radio.

The State Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, Kaspars Ozoliņš, said after the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers that the main reason why the contract with Prudentia was broken was the confidentiality breach that took place on September 18.

Ozoliņš said that, theoretically, the airline could continue using Prudentia's services. 

"Theoretically they have such an option. They should evaluate this themselves, whether the activities that took place by now have brought them luck, whether they've achieved the tasks they wanted to achieve. But we have to note that up until now the activities that aren't related to finding an investor [..] have been carried out very well - [this includes] both regaining the trade mark, the EC investigation that was very successful and was concluded last year, as well as the activities that took place in 2011," said Ozoliņš.

As of now, talks are being held with a number of potential investors, including ones from without the EU, though Ozoliņš was reluctant to name any particular investors.

The Minister of Transport Anrijs Matīss (Unity) told Latvian Radio show Pēcpusdiena that the contract between Prudentia and the state included a confidentiality clause, but the announcement by Kārlis Krastiņš on Friday that an investor has been found and an intention protocol will be created has violated this clause. 

Matīss told that the state won't be suffering losses due to breaking the contract, and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma confirmed as much.

Until now, Prudentia has been criticized for its work for the state - both for the lack of success in overtaking the shares of the troubled Liepāja Steelworks and evaluating the price of the Citadele Bank, which, as a parliamentary committee has now ruled, was sold for too low a price.

The announcement by Prudentia about having found an investor for airBaltic made Anrijs Matīss (Unity) furious, while the company denied that it has violated any confidentiality clauses, saying that the Ministry of Transport has to be more active if it is to find an investor - otherwise, it may face trouble paying for a Bombardier fleet this October.

The Ministry of Transport had inserted ads in the Financial Times of Europe and the UK in 2012, offering investment in the company. The Latvian government offers buying up to 50% minus one share. Prudentia is consulting the state about airBaltic since 2010.

airBaltic serves over 60 destinations from its home base in Riga.

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