Chinese bid to buy Serbia's sole steel mill accepted

The bid submitted by China's HBIS to privatize the Zelezara Smederevo steel mill was accepted on Tuesday, Tanjug reported.

Source: B92, RTS, Tanjug
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

The price offered is slightly over the required minimum - namely, the Chinese offered EUR 46 million.

A government working group opened the bid - the only one submitted - at 11:00 CET on Tuesday, concluding that it is compliant with the tender's financial and technical requirements.

The initial price set in the public invitation for a strategic partner was EUR 45.7 million.

Serbian Minister of Economy Zeljko Sertic said earlier that, if all goes to plan, an agreement on the privatization of the factory will be signed in April.

The He Steel Group (HBIS) is the largest steel manufacturer in China and the third largest in the world.

The company plans to invest EUR 300 million in the national steel producer, reach a production target of 2.1 million tons, and keep all of the factory's 5,050 workers, the Serbian Ministry of Economy said on Tuesday, quoted by Beta agency.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic spoke at a Belgrade University event to say that "good news can be expected" when it comes to the Zelezara tender.

"Trust me, there's going to be good news, I will speak about this tomorrow (Wednesday) and I'm buying lunch for everyone tomorrow," Vucic has been quoted as saying.

Zelezara Smederevo - located downstream from Belgrade on the Danube River, and previously also knowns as Sartid - described in the past as "the backbone of Serbia's economy", was acquired by U.S. Steel in 2003 for USD 23mn. The Serbian government bought it back for one dollar in 2012.

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