Who bought the IFC's shares?
The recent buyer of 655,000 shares, or 8.37 percent, of Bosnalijek d.d., sold on the Sarajevo Stock Exchange (SASE) by World Bank member the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is still mysterious.
However, this package of shares allows that someone to become the third largest individual shareholder in the firm, immediately behind the FBiH government, who owns 19.24 percent, and the Libyan government, owners of 8.78 percent of shares.
And while Bosnalijek is somewhat concerned about recent media insinuations that the mysterious buyer was known in advance and is near to the FBiH government, Federal Minister of Energy, Mining, and Industry Erdal Trhulj says that he does not know who the buyer is, and concludes that it is less important than the results of the Financial Police investigation in Bosnalijek and lawsuits initiated on the basis of the investigation.
"I really don't know who the buyer is and who could stand behind the purchase. It will be very interesting to see who the buyer in fact is, because so far there are all kinds of speculation. The most important thing in Bosnalijek is what the Financial Police confirm and what the Prosecutor does. Who the owner will be tomorrow shouldn't be important, just transparent work alone can attract any investment into BiH," Trhulj told Oslobodjenje.
He recalled that as the relevant minister he earlier confirmed that the "Bosnalijek process is going in two directions: that the
government is trying to protect its capital as the largest shareholder, because there are indications that the value of its
capital is decreasing" and as the second thing he states the Financial Police investigation. He said that the Financial Police filed several criminal charges in the relevant prosecutor that is leading some investigations.
"It is not our goal to take over Bosnalijek, but to evaluate the accuracy of indications that some activities are guided by the law and the fight against corruption and crime," Trhulj said.
Zinaida Babovic, director of the Bosnalijek Public Relations office, says that for them as a joint stock company, the sale and purchase of shares is a common activity, but that it is an unusual way that the IFC sold its shares: for a low price and "according to media reports the buyer was known in advance." The buyers were from custodial accounts, and Bosnalijek hopes that the IFC traded according to the rules of competition.