Bosnia extending its deadline for the sale of its aluminium smelter

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia’s Muslim Croat Federation government extended by three months the deadline for the privatization of its sole aluminium smelter Aluminij Mostar for technical reasons, Prime Minister Nedzad Brankovic said. «This was a necessary formality since the agreement (with the Aluminij’s management) on the sale of the plant has expired,» Brankovic told a news conference. «We did it to provide the privatization commission with more time to evaluate the bids for the 88 percent stake.» Greek metals, energy and engineering group Mytilineos, Swiss-based commodities trader Glencore and Britain’s En+ Group have applied for the stake. All have conditioned the bids on cheap power supplies which the cabinet is unlikely to approve. Brankovic said that apart from the power price, the commission also needed to resolve with bidders some outstanding issues related to environmental requirements they must meet. «None of them has explained yet to the commission the part of their bids which relates to the power and ecology,» he said. Privatization agency head Enes Ganic said bidders linked the power cost with the price of aluminium on the London Metal Exchange and future investments were conditional on low power prices. He said only the government could decide to annul the tender or subsidize Aluminij, if it considered its privatization to be of strategic importance.