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Eight firms in bid for Bosnia aluminum plant

Eight companies have expressed interest in buying an 88% stake in Bosnia's aluminum smelter Aluminij Mostar.

The factory is offered for sale for €76.8 million ($104.8 million), officials said on Wednesday. The international tender for Bosnia's largest exporter, published on March 5, closed on Monday, and the privatization agency of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation said the best offers would be short-listed for due diligence in the firm starting on May 7. Among the firms that sent non-binding offers are Swiss-based metal trader Glencore International AG, Aluminij Mostar's long-time partner, and Greek metals, energy and engineering group Mytilineos, the agency said in a statement. India's largest private sector aluminum producer, Hindalco Industries Ltd., has also applied, as well as London-listed metals and mining group Vedanta Resources, and Britain's En+ Group. The agency also named the consortium of Lithuanian UKIO Bank Investment Group and Poland's Aluminium Konin-Impexmetal as interested firms.

UKIO Group owns a majority stake in Bosnia's alumina producer Birac Zvornik and has announced it wants to invest some €300 million ($409.3 million) either in the construction of a new aluminum plant in Bosnia or in the acquisition of Aluminij. Two more consortiums have also applied. One gathers a Bosnian and two Croatian firms and was chosen as the best bidder this month for a majority stake in Croatia's TLM company, which owns a 12% stake in Aluminij Mostar. The other is the consortium of the German independent aluminum producer Trimet and Britain's International Mineral Resources.
The agency's tender commission said that after due diligence the selected firms would have to send their bids by June 26. According to conditions of the tender, a buyer will have to maintain output, take over 935 employees and pay for the firm in cash. Aluminij, based in the southern town of Mostar, recorded output of 121,000 tons of metal in 2006 and exports worth some €240 million. Its 2006 revenues amounted to €287.9 million. (b92.net)