Kosovo launched 5th wave of privatization

Prishtina, May 11, 2005 – Officials in Kosovo put 15 companies up for sale Tuesday, the fifth batch of firms to be privatized in the economically depressed province, a statement said.

The businesses include a former producer of plastic moldings, a pharmaceutical wholesale trading company, an old rubber products factory, an electrical mill, a brick factory, warehouses, a clothing producer and a mineral water bottling plant.

Most of the companies will be sold to the highest bidder, while two will go to buyers that have submitted investment plans and negotiated workers’ conditions with the Kosovo Trust Agency, a U.N.-run office charged with selling hundreds of enterprises.

The agency advertised the 15 companies for sale on its Web site, saying bids would be accepted from mid-July.
The United Nations mission that is running Kosovo recently set new rules for the privatization process, pledging a faster sell-off of the province’s companies.

Previously, the agency was going through the lengthy process of determining the owner and status of each socially owned enterprise – a term used for firms owned by workers and managers under the system set up during communist-era Yugoslavia.

With the new rules, the agency can determine previous ownership after a sale of assets. The proceeds for the sale of the companies go to an escrow account.

Privatization is among the most sensitive issues in Kosovo, which was put under U.N. protection in June 1999 following a NATO air war that pushed Serb forces out of the province after they cracked down on ethnic Albanians seeking independence.

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 privatizations.

Nevertheless, officials in Kosovo are anxious to sell assets and companies to boost productivity and open investment opportunities in impoverished Kosovo. Many of the province’s companies are inefficient and dilapidated, after years of neglect.

The whole list of the companies to be privatized during this wave can be found here

Sources AP / KTA