Saturday, October 29, 2005

Kosovo's Nickel Plant Sold For EUR33 Million -Authorities

PRISTINA (AP)--A nickel plant in Kosovo was sold Friday for EUR33 million, authorities said.

Officials from the Kosovo Trust Agency, dealing with privatization in Kosovo, signed a contract with Alferon/IMR, part of Eurasian Natural Resources group, which is among the world's largest private mining and metals groups, a U.N. statement said.

The company has offered a business plan including at least 1,000 jobs and an additional investment of EUR20 million within the first three years, it said.

Feronikeli plant in central Kosovo and was badly damaged during NATO bombing of Serb forces in the disputed province in 1999. It is one of the major plants in the economically depressed province.

Kosovo is the poorest region in the Western Balkans with an annual gross domestic product per capita of around EUR1,000 and a jobless rate of at least 50%, according to European Union data.

The privatization of Feronikeli is the most important sell-off of socially owned enterprises, a term used for enterprises owned by the workers and managers under a system set up under communist-era Yugoslavia.

The process of privatization 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 process of privatization.

Many of the companies in the province are overwhelmingly inefficient and often dilapidated after years of neglect and ethnic conflict in the province.

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