Podgorica (Montenegro) (AFP) - Montenegro on Saturday launched a tender to sell the partially state-owned KAP aluminium plant, its biggest industrial employer, which has been declared bankrupt, an official said.
The country hopes to get at least 28 million euros ($38 million) for the Aluminium Company Podgorica (KAP) and its property, the plant's bankruptcy administrator Veselin Perisic said in a statement.
The tender was to remain open until February 17, he added.
A Montenegrin commercial court declared KAP bankrupt last October estimating that the deadline for submitting plans for its restructuring had expired.
The application for bankruptcy was made in July by the Montenegrin government, which owns 29.36 percent of the smelter.
The co-owner is Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska whose Central European Aluminium Company also holds a 29.36-percent stake and has warned it will demand international arbitration seeking one billion euros in compensation from Montenegro.
The remaining 41 percent of the plant is in the hands of small shareholders.
The aluminium smelter is estimated to owe 360 million euros, mostly to foreign banks, including Deutsche Bank, Hungarian OTP bank and Russian VTB bank. The debt is worth almost nine percent of the Balkan country's gross domestic product (GDP).
In May, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommended that Montenegro shut down the facility. Since July, the company has fired 500 people.
But even with the remaining 700 employees, KAP is the biggest industrial employer in the country of some 660,000 people.
Once Montenegro's biggest exporter, KAP accounted for 4.7 percent of country's economic output in 2012.
The former Yugoslav republic opened membership talks with the European Union in mid-2012.