Romania To Sell-Off Largest Steel Producer

The Romanian Cabinet minister in charge of economic sectors will try to speed up the sell-off of the Sidex Galati, Romania's largest steel maker. The dire situation of the plant, whose production dropped to 3.2 million tonnes in 1999 from 4.7 million one year ago and owes $252 million in debt to the state, led the Cabinet to withdraw it from the World Bank's privatization program which is envisaged to end by October or November. Government spokeswoman Gabriela Firea said the Cabinet's second meeting on Sidex in less than a week was prompted, among other things, by the Ministry of Industry's threat to cut the plant's power supply after the State Ownership Fund decided to withdraw it from the privatization list. Last year Sidex was listed among 65 large and medium-sized companies split into five strategic packages to be sold off by international consultants. The program, known as the Private Sector Adjustment Loan, has been financed by the World Bank with $300 million.

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