Grand Hotel and Peja Brewery to be privatised soon

Prishtina, Sept 1 2005, (AP) – Authorities in Kosovo put the province’s biggest hotel and a brewery up for sale Thursday, hoping to boost productivity in the economically depressed province.

The Kosovo Trust Agency, a United Nations-run entity guiding privatization in the province, gave interested investors four months to bid for the Grand Hotel Prishtina and the Peja Brewery. The agency advertised the companies for sale on its Web site.

Authorities are eager to sell companies and other assets to open investment opportunities and create jobs in the impoverished province.

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 privatization process is complicated by the uncertainty over 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 wants private entrepreneurs to assume the risk of modernizing the industries. The companies are inefficient and dilapidated after years of neglect.

Earlier this year, the U.N. mission set new rules for the privatization process. Under those rules, the agency has the right to sell and determine the new owners of the companies. The agency hopes the new powers will reduce concerns from investors that a change in the political landscape would rob them of their assets.