Serbia: Carrying on with business as usual
Political horse-trading in Serbia continues following the late January elections. However, despite the lack of a new government the country remains a strong magnet for foreign direct investment. In recent weeks, Serbia has concluded the politically sensitive sale of a leading mining company and the Belgrade Stock Exchange remains one of the best-performing bourses in the region. Romania’s Cuprom has secured the ownership of RTB Bor, Serbia’s largest copper mine, paying €303 million for a company the World Bank had suggested be closed down. Additionally, Cuprom has agreed to invest a further €137 million, alongside a €120 million commitment from the Serbian authorities to upgrade and provide equipment for the facility. Despite opposition from nationalist politicians and RTB Bor’s own management, the sale was pushed through by the outgoing government in the hope that it would boost economic prospects in Bor, one of Serbia’s poorest towns. Cuprom managing director Horia Simu says that the government had achieved the best possible price for the mine at a time of high copper prices. Copper prices have risen 44% in the past three months alone.
The lack of a government at the helm has failed to stem the upward trajectory of the Serbian equity market, which is firmly in bull market territory, with the headline Belex-15 index on the Belgrade bourse posting new highs on a daily basis in April.