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Serbian state pharma tender attracts only one valid bid

BELGRADE, Sept 15 A tender for a 25 percent stake in Serbia's loss-making, state-owned pharmaceutical company Galenika has attracted only one valid bid, the Economy Ministry said on Thursday.

Serbia has promised to sell, shut or slim down unprofitable state firms to fulfil the conditions of a 1.2 billion euro ($1.4 billion) loan deal with the International Monetary Fund, but bidders for generously-staffed, indebted companies have been hard to find.

Of three bids submitted for the company, which has debts of $220 million, only the one submitted by a Russian-British consortium for the minimum asking price of 7 million euros was valid, a state privatisation commission said.

Other state companies for which Serbia is seeking buyers include the RTB Bor copper mine and the Resavica coal mine.

The consortium of Britain's Frontier Pharma and Russia's Petrovax Pharm promised to keep 700 jobs at Galenika's plant, the Economy Ministry said. The government has not yet decided whether to accept the bid or open talks with the consortium.

In April, Serbia sold its Zelezara Smederevo steel mill to China's Hebei Iron & Steel Group for 46 million euros.

Of Galenika's $220 million debt, $50 million is owed to commercial banks and the rest to the state. A proposed $8.7 million sale of Galenika to Valeant failed in June 2013.

($1 = 0.8896 euros) (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Thomas Escritt and Mark Potter)

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