Serbia renews attempt to sell sole steel mill

BELGRADE, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Serbia invited bids for its solesteel mill on Monday in a renewed attempt to sell theloss-making company, almost a year since previous owner U.S.Steel abandoned it to cut losses.

The Serbian finance ministry set Oct. 26 as the deadline for

bidders which must be from the iron, steel or mining sectors,with assets of at least $2.5 billion and 2011 revenue of $2billion.

The Serbian government bought the loss-making plant in thecentral city of Smederevo from U.S. Steel for a nominal $1 toavert the potential loss of 5,500 jobs and started financing itfrom the budget.

Previous attempts to sell the company this year failed dueto lack of interest. Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic saidlast month Serbia was close to a deal with an unidentifiedRussian company.

The new tender offer requires a prospective buyer to draw upa plan to restart Zelezara Smederevo's two idled furnaces andinvest at least $50 million over four years.

Finding a buyer for the plant is crucial for Serbia which issliding into recession while seeking to cut its budget deficitof around 6.2 percent of GDP.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by)



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