Russian Company Bids for Serbian Copper Contract

A Russian company is among three foreign firms which have placed bids for a strategic partnership in RTB Bor, Serbia’s only copper mine and smelter, the Economy Ministry said, according to SeeNews.

The ministry’s statement did not name the companies, but according to Russian media, the firm in question is the Russian Copper Company (RMK), whose CEO and majority owner Igor Altushkin sent a letter of intent to the government of Serbia and the leadership of RTB Bor.

Serbia’s government said last month it was seeking a partner to invest at least $350 million in the debt-laden state-owned enterprise but did not say how big a stake it would offer in return. It had previously failed three times to sell the mining complex, in 2007 and 2008, as bidders fell short of meeting the terms of those tenders.

A Serbian court approved in July 2016 a plan for the restructuring of RTB Bor, allowing the write-off of 90% of the company’s unsecured debt. Under the plan, the remaining 10% of debt will be repaid over eight years with a one-year grace period, while the secured debt will be converted into equity.

In a statement late on Monday, the ministry said only that companies from Canada, China and Russia had placed bids.

Tenderers should have been continuously active in the production of copper and other base and precious metals in the past 10 years and to have had a minimum annual turnover of $500 million in the past year.

“The commission charged with the procedure (of privatization) will now review documentation and proceed accordingly,” the ministry said without elaborating.