The Croatian government has announced that it has received non-binding bids for the concession of the Croatian motorway network.
The 1,024 Km motorway concession includes the management and maintenance of the motorways operated by the state-owned Hrvatske Autoceste and Autoceste Rijeka Zagreb companies. The highways involve in the privatization process are the following:
According to Sinisa Hajdas Doncic, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, the Croatian motorway network will be leased only if the future operator offered a one-off payment of at least €2.5 billion (US$3.11 billion) to €3 billion (US$3.73 billion) for a concession period between 30 years and 50 years. Mr Doncic reported in a statement:
At this stage of the process we are not allowed to release details about the participants. It will be possible at the public opening of the binding bids. We have ahead of us a four-month negotiation period with the bidders. In April they will be invited to submit binding bids and the only criterion will be the price, meaning the highest offer.
Local media have speculated recently that bids were submitted from three bidders:
The government announced it plans to use the funds to ensure the repayment of loans taken out by state-owned motorway operators Hrvatske Autoceste and Autoceste Rijeka Zagreb. Both have to repay €2.0 billion during the next three years. A total of €4.0 billion must be repaid until 2039.
Croatia joined the European Union last year. The country is currently under pressure from Brussels to improve its finances.