Serbia issues pre-privatization call to NIS buyers

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia yesterday published a prospectus for its NIS oil monopoly giving potential investors a week to express their interest in a 25 percent stake that will formally go on sale this month. The brief advertisement, published in the Belgrade daily Politika on behalf of the state Privatization Agency, gave basic detail on NIS’s balance sheet. Energy Minister Radomir Naumov said on Wednesday the tender would be launched within 10 days. At the end of 2005, Naftna Industrija Srbije had assets of 1.9 billion euros and liabilities of 867.6 million euros. The government expects to get at least $300 million for the stake, based on NIS’s $1.2 billion nominal total value. The buyer would get another 12.5 percent stake through a $250 million capital increase and would have to reinvest a further $250 million from NIS profits over three years. According to a plan prepared by privatization advisers Raiffeisen Investment and Merrill Lynch, the state and the buyer would each hold a 37.5 percent stake by early 2007. The buyer would get management control and Serbia would keep a right to veto decisions such as a sale of NIS to third parties. Three years later NIS would launch an initial public offering (IPO), putting on sale 15 percent of its total capital. Following the IPO, the initial buyer would have the chance to boost its holding to 49 percent, depending on the company’s three-year performance. By the end of July, the advisers had held meetings with Hellenic Petroleum, OMV, MOL, PKN Orlen, Lukoil and an Israeli oil company.