The London office of US firm Altheimer & Gray has beaten City competitors to win work from the Privatisation Agency of Serbia.
London office partner Nick Towle has been seconded to the agency for three months to prepare for a wholesale privatisation of state assets. Towle will advise on building a database of transaction documents and procedures for open and effective privatisation of state-owned enterprises. He said: "Our task will be to help make the process as clear, transparent and efficient as possible. "The former Yugoslavia has a longstanding tradition of 'social ownership', which is unique to transition economies and which presents a complex set of problems to be solved." The Serbian government has outlined its objectives for the privatisation programme. It has highlighted 5,000 companies which are currently state-controlled that should be taken into private ownership. The Serbian Ministry of Economy and Privatisation stated that these companies had been selected in part because investor interest had already been expressed towards them. It has already stipulated that all of the privatised companies will be divided into three components. Serbian and foreign investors will be able to acquire 70 per cent, with the remaining 30 per cent reserved for an equal split between employees and Serbian citizens. The managing partner of Altheimer's London office Robert Bata said: "It's a tremendous opportunity for us to continue to do what we're very strong in." Bata was enthusiastic about the firm's involvement early on in the privatisation process. He argued that the raft of privatisations would bring the former Yugoslavia to the same stage as other developing economies in the region.