BELGRADE Dec 5 Serbia may offer to sell a 20
percent stake in state-owned drugmaker Galenika to investors and
put the proceeds back into the company, the country's economy
minister said on Thursday.
Galenkia was put up for sale earlier this year as part of
Serbia's plans to sell off up to 179 loss-making state
enterprises, including the Zelezara Smederevo steel mill and the
RTB Bor copper mine, to reduce its budget deficit and also cut
down on subsidies and sovereign guarantees.
The government wants the budget deficit to fall to 4.6
percent of output in 2014, down from this year's 4.7 percent
But in June, Canada's Valeant Pharmaceuticals
pulled out of a possible bid for Galenika, citing, among other
things, union opposition.
Economy minister Sasa Radulovic said that the sale of a
stake in Belgrade-based Galenika, which is 85 percent
state-owned, was more favourable than the acquisition by a
single strategic partner.
"Proceeds from the sale of 20 percent ... would not go to
the budget but to company's development," he said at a meeting
with union activists from across Serbia.
Galenika employs about 2,000 people, and has so far
accumulated debt of around 170 million euros ($230.46 million).
In July, the government told Galenika to trim jobs and wages and
use the savings to pay its debts.
At the meeting, union activists said they were concerned
that government's austerity plan for 2014 would create more
unemployment, currently at around 24 percent.
The Socialist-led government plans to trim jobs, sell or
shut down unprofitable firms from the public sector that
currently employs more than 700,000 people, almost 10 percent of
the total population.
Radulovic also said that the government would establish a
200 million euros state fund next year to help restructuring of
loss-making state companies.
($1 = 0.7377 euros)
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Jane Merriman)