Siberian Smelter's Firm Wins Ukraine Tender




KIEV -- Ukraine's State Property Fund said Tuesday a firm linked to Russia's Siberian Aluminum Group had won a tender for 30 percent of the Nikolayev Alumina Plant with a bid of $101 million.


"I today signed the protocol confirming the final winner of the tender for 30 percent of shares in Nikolayev," fund head Olexander Bondar said at a news conference, adding the three tender participants' bids had not changed since a first round last week.


"No bidders offered different terms and so the winner of the tender was recognized as Ukrainian Aluminum," he said.


A fund statement said the previously unknown Ukrainian Aluminum had bid 547.2 million hryvnas and Bondar said the fund had never received so large a bid for a stake in any firm.


The fund has said only that Ukrainian Aluminum was 75 percent foreign-owned. But sources familiar with the deal said last week it was linked to the Siberian group.


Ukrainian Aluminum said last week it would cooperate with firms affiliated with the Siberian Aluminum group to build a $190 million aluminum smelter, buy bauxite mines in Guinea and modernize the Nikolayev plant to boost output if its offer was accepted.


Siberian, which was also a formal bidder in the Ukrainian tender, says it already owns 36 percent of the Nikolayev plant.


The plant produced 992,000 metric tons of alumina in 1999 compared to 1.064 million tons in 1998.


Ukraine has only one primary aluminum producer, the Zaporozhye Aluminum Combine, whose 1999 primary aluminum output rose to 112,400 tons from 106,700 tons in 1998.


The interest of companies in Russia in buying stakes in Ukraine's prime industrial assets has sparked controversy in Ukraine, which shook off 300 years of Russian dominance only in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.


Several previous attempts to sell Nikolayev, one of Ukraine's largest investment opportunities, have failed.


But speeding up privatization of such industrial jewels is one of the International Monetary Fund's key conditions for renewed lending to Ukraine under its $2.6 billion program.