Croatia to offer state-owned shipyards for sale.
Croatia plans to put its ailing shipyards up for sale on Feb. 15, in an attempt to move its European Union (EU) entry talks forward, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said on Thursday. Croatia hopes to start talks on competition policy and the judiciary in the next month or two in order wrap up accession talks, which began in 2005, this year.
And in order to start the competition talks Zagreb has to put its six state-owned docks on the Adriatic coast up for sale.
"The (international) tender for the sale of six docks will be published on Feb. 15. We expect that this second attempt of privatisation will yield success," Kosor told a cabinet session.
The first sell-off round fell through last September amid meagre investor interest.
"This time the costs of restructuring for potential investors have been reduced after an agreement between the government and the docks compensating a part of the shipyards' debt with state ownership on some of the docks' property," said Economy Minister Djuro Popijac.
Shipbuilding used to be Croatia's flagship export industry, but it is now in debt and survives only due to state subsidies, considered illegal in the EU. The sale is sensitive as the shipyards employ about 11,000 people and jobs could be lost.
Depending on the potential sales Croatia's taxpayers may have to pay up to 13 billion kuna of the total debt of the docks, Finance Minister Ivan Suker said.
The tender will run for 60 days. Potential investors will have to take over at least 40 percent of restructuring costs.
Only one of the docks, Uljanik in the northern Adriatic port of Pula, runs a profitable business. The government plans to offer 25 percent of Uljanik to its employees later on.
Four docks will be offered for a token price of 1 kuna. The smaller of the two shipyards in the southern Adriatic city of Split will be offered for 18.2 million kuna, while investors will have to pay 397.5 million kuna ($74.86 million) for 59 percent of Uljanik.