Sask. government to partially privatize ISC

The Saskatchewan government wants to sell shares in one of its Crown corporations — the Information Services Corporation.

The Saskatchewan government wants to sell shares in one of its Crown corporations — the Information Services Corporation.

It has just introduced legislation to allow it to sell 60 per cent of its stake in the land and corporate registry business.

The government would keep the other 40 per cent.

Don McMorris, the minister responsible for ISC, said the government wanted to strike a balance between owning too much and too little of the future company.

"Having the government in a position to benefit from the potential growth, which we think is there, but not hindering the possibility of sales because it is too much owned by government — it's a balance there," he said Monday.

Out of the 60 per cent of shares that will make up the proposed initial public offering, 45 per cent will be available to Saskatchewan citizens, 5 per cent to employees and the rest to outsiders. The maximum any one investor can own is 15 per cent.

According to an assessment by RBC, the value of the 60 per cent that could be sold is between $90 million and $120 million.

Meanwhile, the NDP opposition says if the Saskatchewan Party government wanted to privatize a Crown corporation, the party should have said so during the last election.

New Democrat MLA Cathy Sproule said there is no evidence ISC couldn't expand as a Crown corporation, despite the government's arguments to the contrary.

"That's something they keep saying, but we haven't seen any evidence of that," Sproule said. "Certainly we have seen currently that they are dealing with other governments and that is perfectly normal for government Crowns to deal with other governments."

McMorris says other jurisdictions would use ISC's services if it were not government-owned.