Plans for valuation of Serbia’s EPS spark privatisation rumours

By bne IntelliNews August 16, 2016

Serbia’s national power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) has hired Energoprojekt Entel, a member of Serbian engineering giant Energoprojekt Holding Group, and the Economics Institute, a scientific research and advisory organisation, to estimate the value of the company's property, Beta news agency reported on August 15.

The purpose of the estimate has not been announced, but Belgrade media speculate that the move is a first step toward EPS’s privatisation.

EPS is one of three state-owned giants, along with gas monopoly Srbijagas and Serbian Railways, whose reform process has been strongly criticised by international financial institutions, primarily by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The main obstacles for reforming EPS are the large number of workers at the company, and high salaries, which were increased rather than cut in 2015.

However, Tanjug reported on July 28, quoting unnamed sources at the ministry of economy, that the government has no intention at this moment to sell EPS off.

Beta said it had learned from the company that valuation is due to be carried out within eight months, and will cost RSD34mn (€276,422).

The EU has asked Serbian public enterprises to define the value of their property by early 2017, as well as the ownership of immovable property and land for which the public enterprises have the right of use, while the owner is the state.

Daily Blic reported on July 28 quoting an unnamed source within the government, that by the end of 2016, Serbia should prepare a new draft law on privatisation, which should define the terms of sale of strategic resources and cover electrical industry, water resource management and telecommunications, which should be singled out in the process of privatisation.

EPS is among the largest employers in Serbia as about 36,000 people work there.

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