"Chinese don't need EC approval for Serbian acquisition"

The European Commission "has approved in principle the acquisition of Serbia's sole steel mill Zelezara Smederevo by Chinese company He Steel."

Source: Beta, Tanjug
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(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

This has been reported on Wednesday by Belgrade-based Blic daily, Tanug said.

The paper added that the EC agreed in principle on Tuesday, and will give the official go-ahead for the move by Friday.

"This removed the last hurdle for the acquisition of Zelezara so the signing ceremony is set to take place on Monday," said the report, adding:

"This practically means that the state of Serbia managed to persuade EC representatives that Smederevo will not be just a screen for selling the steel manufactured in China, and prove that it has not subsidized this huge loss-making company since February last year. "

A Blic source close to the Serbian delegation claims that the negotiations were "tough, but that they had strong arguments."

“The EC has analyzed all points of the contract and found in principle that the transaction is in line with the regulations of the community,” said the source.

However, Beta is reporting today that EU diplomatic sources in Brussels said the Chinese company neither requires, nor has asked for EC's approval for the acquisition, as it is a commercial deal between companies, i.e., countries, that are not members of the EU.

The agency said that a meeting of a committee monitoring the implementation of the SAA was held in Brussels on Tuesday, but that representatives of the Serbian government and the EC did not discuss the sale of Zelezara.

The same sources said that "one question the EC could pose is the amount of state subsidies toward Zelezara's future operations" but that the the contract that has been prepared does not envisage such subsidies.

The Serbian government has announced that the contract will be signed on Monday, April 18.

He Steel was the only bidder in a tender to sell the factory, offering EUR 46 million.

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