Ukraine`s privatisation agency has set a starting price of about $2.4 billion for the sale of a majority stake in fixed-line operator Ukrtelekom, the agency`s deputy head Dmytro Parfenenko said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The government plans to sell a 68 percent stake in the company, which last year began providing mobile phone services and owns a third-generation licence.

"For now the starting price is proposed at 12 billion hryvnias ($2.4 billion)," Parfenenko told journalists before the start of a cabinet meeting.

Governments have repeatedly tried to privatise Ukrtelekom for the past decade, but have been thwarted by political infighting and legal challenges.

Last year, the previous government tried to sell five parcels of 1 percent stakes in Ukrtelekom on the domestic market to test the water for a 38 percent stake sale abroad but was stymied by legal proceedings.

Between 2000 and 2001, the government sold 7.14 percent of Ukrtelekom to the firm`s workers and foreign investors. Some of those shares are now traded on Ukraine`s illiquid stock exchange.

Ukrtelekom, which became the sixth firm to enter Ukraine`s mobile telephone market in November, estimated its 2007 revenues at 7.765 billion hryvnias ($1.55 billion) from fixed-line services, below the 7.879 billion hryvnias it earned in 2006.

In February, the government said it expected to receive up to $7 billion from the sale, which would make the privatisation the largest in the history of the former Soviet state.

The 2008 budget is aiming for revenues from privatisation of 8.6 billion hryvnias ($1.7 billion). Last year, the target was 10.6 billion hryvnias, yet the government received just 2.4 billion as sell-offs were delayed by infighting and legal challenges.