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Sun 4 Nov 2012 02:30 PM

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MidEast investors eye Serbian bonds - report

Country is preparing to sell a US$2bn eurobond next year and is seeking investors

MidEast investors eye Serbian bonds - report
Serbia is set to sell a US$2bn eurobond next year and is looking to attract investors from the Middle East.

Serbia is set to sell a US$2bn eurobond next year and is looking to attract investors from the Middle East in order to service its national debt, the country’s Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic told Bloomberg.

Serbian officials will start an international road show this week, starting with the US and the UK, Dinkic confirmed.

The former Yugoslavian state is also set to sell some of its assets in a bid to help raise funds to drag the country out of recession.

The Belgrade government is looking to sell a 65 percent stake in Privredna Banka Beograd AD (PRBN) and “talks are under way with Gazprombank OJSC, VTB Bank and a bank from Abu Dhabi,” for a stake in lender Srpska Banka AD (SRBN), Dinkic said.

The report claimed Abu Dhabi investors are also looking at possible investment in Serbia’s agriculture, property and weapons industry and some deals are expected to be finalised by the second quarter of 2013.

It is the latest linkup between Serbia and the UAE. Last month, Reuters reported Serbia wants to set up a new airline separate from its loss-making JAT Airways and plans to lease 12 new aircraft from EADS's Airbus, in a precursor to a deal with another carrier.

Dinkic said the government would guarantee the aircraft leases before seeking a tie-up with an airline such as Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.

"The new, better company would receive US$140m worth of sovereign guarantees..." Dinkic said on the sidelines of a business forum in Belgrade.

"The old JAT will have to go bankrupt... It is unsustainable," he said.

Serbia, struggling with a budget deficit projected at 6.2 percent of gross domestic product, has long wanted to sell JAT, which last year made a loss of AED3.2bn.

Dinkic said he had discussed the possibility of Etihad buying a stake in the new Serbian airline and taking over the lease guarantees with UAE officials during a recent visit to Dubai.

He said Etihad may also want to build a new cargo terminal at Belgrade airport.

In March JAT, which operates 14 ageing aircraft, received government guarantees of €10m (US$12.6m) for a loan to cover short-term liabilities.

In September, Serbian officials said Belgrade was negotiating to sell the airline to AirAsia but the Malaysian company denied that it was interested.

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