Croatia sells aluminium plant to a regional five-firm consortium

ZAGREB – The Croatian government approved on Friday the sale of its sole aluminium plant, the indebted TLM, to a consortium of four domestic firms and an aluminium processing firm from neighboring Bosnia. The consortium committed to invest -107 million in TLM, based in the Adriatic town of Sibenik, in the next three years and keep all 1,400 employees during that period. The consortium will buy TLM for 1 kuna (-0.137). Positive impact «This is very good news for TLM’s employees and the whole (metallurgy) industry,» Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told a cabinet session. Sanader is currently negotiating to form a new coalition government, following the inconclusive November 25 parliamentary election. The current government will work until a new one is approved. TLM, like most local companies in the sector, has piled up debts over the years and survived only thanks to state support. The government is now trying to sell firms in ailing industries to bring state subsidies in line with European Union rules. Croatia hopes to join the EU around 2010.