Tbilisi: Georgia has announced a tender for the sale of state-owned gas firm Tbilgazi, which distributes gas in the capital city of Tbilisi, Tbilgazi spokeswoman Ekaterine Saria told Reuters yesterday.

Georgia had been negotiating a direct sale of Tbilgazi with Kazakh state company Kaztransgaz, whose officials spent several months in Tbilisi studying technical and financial data.

"We have rejected an idea of direct sale of Tbilgazi to Kaztransgaz. Now other interested potential investors can take part in the future tender for Tbilgazi," Saria said.

The tender closes on May 12, and the winner will be announced on the same day. The starting price for the 96 per cent stake in Tbilgazi is $12.5 million.

Tbilgazi was declared bankrupt in late 2005 and has debts of $110 million.

Georgia intends to raise consumer gas prices from May to $0.19 per cubic metre from the current $0.15 due to rising prices for Russian natural gas.