PRISTINA (AP)--Kosovo's largest cigarette producer, a construction company, restaurants and a hotel were among 15 firms put up for sale Thursday in hopes of boosting the economy in the disputed province.
The Kosovo Trust Agency launched the 10th round of privatization in an effort to sell the companies, which were once owned by their workers and managers under a system set up during communist-era Yugoslavia. The privatization agency is hoping 22 new companies will be created when the sales are complete.
The agency advertised the companies put up for sale on its Web site.
Privatization is among the most sensitive issues in Kosovo, which was placed under U.N. administration in 1999 following NATO air strikes that ended a Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.
The process of privatization in Kosovo is complex in part because it is unclear whether Kosovo will become independent or remain part of Serbia- Montenegro, the successor state of Yugoslavia. Serbia's authorities have fiercely opposed the privatizations.
The Kosovo Trust Agency, the U.N. entity responsible for privatizing the enterprises and putting them on solid legal footing, wants private entrepreneurs to assume the risk of modernizing the industries.
The companies are considered inefficient and dilapidated after years of neglect.