Wednesday, April 19, 2006

22 firms up for sale in Kosovo's privatization bid

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Kosovo launched its 15th round of privatizations Wednesday, offering a veterinary facility, a toll milling business and agricultural land, in an attempt to revive the province's economy.

The Kosova Trust Agency, the U.N. entity responsible for privatizing the province's enterprises, said it hoped 26 new firms would be created by the sales, according to its Web site, which lists the offerings.

The offered companies were once owned by workers and managers under a system set up during communist-era Yugoslavia, and are now considered inefficient and dilapidated after years of neglect.

Privatization is among the most sensitive issues in Kosovo, as it is still unclear whether the province will become independent or remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the successor state of Yugoslavia.

Kosovo was placed under U.N. administration in 1999 following NATO air strikes that ended a Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

Serbia's authorities, which want to maintain some control over Kosovo, have fiercely opposed the privatizations, while Kosovo's ethnic Albanian authorities are eager to sell assets and open investment opportunities and create jobs.

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