ECONOMY

FYROM annuls plant tender

SKOPJE (Reuters) – The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) annulled yesterday a tender for its Negotino thermal power plant, citing «weaknesses» in the bids received and shortcomings in the tender carried out under the previous government. A new tender will be announced within 20 days, the government said in a statement. FYROM’s center-right government, which took power in August following July elections, has said there was no official winning bid in the last tender. Austrian utility EVN says it was told by the previous government in June it had won. The statement said «weaknesses in the economic and technical aspects of the offers, as well as omissions in the procedure» left the government no alternative but to annul the process. In the original tender, bids were made as a package consisting of the outright purchase price plus a pledge on future investment. The government yesterday said this had produced startling and questionable results. «The offered purchase price from the first-ranked company was the lowest of the four qualified bidders, and three times lower than that of the second-ranked company,» the statement said. «Such a price for buying 100 percent of Negotino is unacceptable for an energy facility which is crucial to the energy system of [the Former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia.» Senior government sources have said that Skopje will now seek the highest possible purchase price and cares little for extra investment as it will not retain a stake in the plant. Responding to appeals by EVN last month for its alleged deal with the previous government to stand, the statement said none of the bidders had signed an agreement to buy the plant. EVN has said it had offered 4 million euros for the oil-fueled power plant, which it planned to convert into a 750-megawatt coal-power plant. It had also earmarked 752 million euros in investment over five years to overhaul the facility. In a separate deal, EVN won a tender for the privatization of FYROM power distributor ESM in March, paying 225 million euros for a 90 percent share and pledging another 96 million euros in investment in the next three years. Power generation, transmission and distribution in FYROM are controlled by three separate companies which emerged from the split-up of state-run monopoly ESM at the start of 2005. The sale of the company in the runup to the election had sparked public discontent and opposition parties had pledged they would review the sales once they came into power.