May 18, 2009 / 1:28 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Serbia rejects A-TEC offer for RTB Bor copper mine

* Serbia rejects offer, says elements missing

* A-TEC was only bidder in fourth sale attempt

(Adds A-TEC comment, bullet points)

BELGRADE, May 18 (Reuters) - Serbia has rejected a bid by Austrian industrial conglomerate A-TEC ATEC.VI for a stake in troubled copper complex RTB Bor as incomplete and decided to postpone the sale of the company.

“The tender commission unanimously agreed the documents filed by A-TEC Industries did not constitute a binding bid, but rather a letter of intent,” a commission comprised of government representatives, the Privatization Agency, RTB Bor’s management and trade unions said on Monday.

The ruling came after A-TEC said on Friday it wanted to buy a 40 percent stake in RTB Bor.

“As the offer did not have ... elements envisaged by the tender and instructions for bidders, the commission decided it will...not be taken for further consideration,” it said.

A-TEC, which was the sole bidder in Serbia’s fourth attempt to sell RTB Bor, said it was unable to comment because it had not received anything in writing.

Three earlier efforts to sell a controlling stake in the mining complex, which had suffered in the 1990s amid Balkan wars and international isolation, were unsuccessful.

“The government will not launch more sale attempts until the global market of non-ferrous metals recovers and price of copper goes up,” the commission said of a plan, backed by RTB Bor’s management and trade unions.

The company is estimated to have debts of $500 million and in the statement on Monday the government said it will try to rescue the company by trying to resolve its outstanding debts, as well as invest in production and environmental protection.

In 2008, A-TEC ranked top in the second tender for the miner. Its deal with the Serbian government fell through after it offered only part-payment of its $466 million purchase, prompting the government to annul the sale. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade, additional reporting by Alexandra Schwarz in Vienna; editing by Simon Jessop)

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