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Serbia to Turn its Electricity Giant EPS into Joint Stock Company

Citizens may get 15% of Elektroprivreda Srbije or EPS this year as the Government of Serbia plans to change its status from a public company to a joint stock company. It informed the International Monetary Fund in a letter of intent that it is transforming the power producer with the help of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The move raises questions about the possibility of a stock market listing or even a sale of a stake.

The cabinet also said it wouldreview the tariffsfor electricity until June, aiming to cover expenses "entirely” including the increase in the use ofrenewable energy sources,Večernje novosti reported. The article highlightseffortsto expand capacity and meet environmental standards. Serbia wants to improve the utility’s sustainability and enable professional management, the document adds and notes several past orders on assuming control over the property of EPS.

The next step inthe overhaulspanning corporate governance, restructuring and financial consolidation will be a tender for the evaluation of assets, the government revealed.

Nenad Gujaničić from brokerage and consultancy Momentum Securities claims integration within large companies and market debuts lead to more effective control and better results. He especially cited state-owned companies due to meddling by political parties. However, in Gujaničić’s view, turning into a joint stock company means nothing by itself.

He pointed to the equivalent switch that was made in Telekom Srbija and said minority shareholders, who have 30%, still can’t exert any influence. The firm wasn’t listed and they can’t sell their holdings freely.

In several rounds of privatization of so-called socially owned enterprises since the 1990s, Serbian citizens got payouts and shares. Among them, the state sold a majority stake in oil refiner and producer NIS to Gazprom. Aerodrom Nikola Tesla, which runs Belgrade airport, was listed on the local stock exchange and later Vinci Airports paid EUR 501 million for a 25-year concession.

The Fiscal Council has claimed EPS must investEUR 800 million by 2025inenvironmental protection.Theindependent bodycriticized the electricity giant, whichleans mostlyoncoal-fired thermal power plants,calling it "the biggest polluter in Serbia and one of the biggest ones in Europe.” The estimate was calculated according to obligations on a national level and European Union standards. Minister of mining and energy Aleksandar Antić just promised the company wouldspend EUR 1 billionwithin seven years.

(read full article: https://balkangreenenergynews.com/serbia-to-turn-its-electricity-giant-eps-into-joint-stock-company/)


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