Serbia has put the troubled giant up for a sale after it spent a year under the management of a Dutch-based company HPK Engineering BV and unsuccessful privatization talks with US company Esmark.
The government earlier said it was negotiating with China’s HBIS Group, the world’s second largest steel producer, which has reportedly expressed interest in investing some 300 million euro in the mill.
„Talks with the HBIS Group are a top strategic priority for Serbia,“ Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in mid-January. Serbia hopes to close the the deal with the Chinese company by the end of May.
The Smederevo steel mill employs over 5,000 people and owes about 260 million euro to the banks and 264 million to different suppliers.
It was initially privatized in 2003, when it was sold to US Steel for $23 million (about 17.5 million euro). The government bought it back for one dollar after US Steel withdrew in 2012.
The government bought back the factory in the hope of maintaining production and preserving the jobs of the employees, and has since tried to sell it several times, without success.