BELGRADE, Oct 26 (Reuters) - An affiliate of Brazilian pharmaceuticals company EMS SA has offered 16 million euros ($18.8 million) for a 93.7 percent stake in Serbian drugmaker Galenika, the Balkan country’s economy ministry said on Thursday.
Belgrade wants to sell Galenika as part of a drive to rid itself of unprofitable state-run companies under a 1.2 billion euro ($1.4 billion) deal with the International Monetary Fund, but the drugmaker’s debts have so far put off investors.
In a statement, the ministry said the tender commission had recommended that Luxembourg-based Aelius, an affiliate of EMS, should be declared winner of the tender.
“The buyer will have to repay a 25 million euros debt to banks and pay a compensation of 200 euro per every year in service to employees who opted for a voluntary redundancy plan,” it said.
So far, 250 out of 1,400 Galenika employees have joined the redundancy plan.
Under the terms of the tender, Belgrade offered its entire stake in Galenika at a starting price of a nominal one euro plus payment of the company’s debt.
The ministry’s statement also said the winning bidder would have to invest 5.525 million euros in Galenika over the next two years and keep a workforce of 900 employees “for an indefinite period of time.”
Last week, the government said another bidder, Switzerland-based Amicus, had failed to provide the required documentation.
In August, the government and state-run gas retailer Srbijagas took on a combined 14.7 billion dinars ($144.8 million) of Galenika’s debt in exchange for an 8 percent stake, increasing their total share in the drugmaker to around 93 percent. The remainder belongs to small shareholders.
In 2013, Belgrade attempted to privatise Galenika but the sole bidder, Canada’s Valeant, pulled out, citing the hostility of local unions as a factor.
$1 = 0.8508 euros Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Potter