Extra time for bids

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania extended by 60 days a deadline for the lodging of final bids for a majority stake in aluminum rolling mill Alprom, following requests from would-be bidders, privatization agency APAPS said yesterday. Bids for the state’s 69.92-percent stake in Alprom’s 170.4 billion lei ($5.1 million) capital should be filed by July 26. An APAPS official said the extension granted prospective investors time to finish assessing the plant and develop the final offers for Alprom, whose sell-off should be completed by the end of 2002 under accords with the World Bank. Media reports said Greek company Alumil, Russia’s second largest primary aluminum producer SUAL and a local trader, Metalexportimport, had expressed interest in Alprom, which has a 50-percent market share for rolled aluminum and extruded products. Other shareholders of Alprom, whose chief raw materials supplier is aluminum smelter Alro, are US metals trading house Marco and its Romanian arm Conef, which jointly own 17.19 percent. The rest belongs to firms and individuals. Marco and Conef are interested in the privatization of Alprom with the aim of integrating its activities with Alro, one of Europe’s largest aluminum smelters. Under the sell-off plan, Romania is seeking to attract an «aluminum industry performer» with an annual turnover exceeding $45 million to develop Alprom’s export markets. Alprom, with an overall capacity of 68,000 tons a year, exports around half of its output to Italy, Germany, Greece, the United States and Japan. The final result was that, in four sessions, from June 13-18, OTE’s stock lost in value the exact amount, 675 million euros, the State earned from the sale.