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Serbia's Elektroprivreda Needs $600 Million to Pay Debt

Elektroprivreda Srbije JP, Serbia’s state-owned utility, needs a 50 billion-dinar ($600 million) loan to refinance debt and continue operations, acting Chief Executive Officer Aleksandar Obradovic said.

The Balkan country’s dominant power producer, known as EPS, faces a “critical period over the next two or three months” as it needs to pay back as much as 20 billion dinars of short-term debt, Obradovic said at a news conference in Belgrade today. EPS is seeking loans from commercial banks, without state guarantees, he added.

“We managed to reschedule some liabilities at the end of last year but now we don’t have much room to maneuver,” he said.

The government of Prime Minister Ivica Dacic appointed Obradovic as CEO in September and wants him to merge some of the utility’s units and cut costs, without selling it to private investors. Its managing board was appointed by the previous government whose leaders lost last year’s elections.

Obradovic urged the board to call a meeting to discuss borrowing and restructuring plans. The company’s 2012 loss was about 33 billion dinars, he said.

The state won’t rescue Elektroprivreda, Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic said at a separate news briefing in Belgrade today. EPS “has the capacity to become a stable company with its own resources,” he said.

Elektroprivreda also claims some 120 billion dinars in unpaid bills, Chief Financial Officer Branislav Vukosavljevic said. About half is owed by industrial consumers, mostly state companies in receivership that are legally protected from being cut off from the grid, he said.

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