Croatia investigating 12 people over stricken Uljanik shipbuilder

by Reuters
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 11:20 GMT

ZAGREB, March 26 (Reuters) - Croatia is investigating 12 people in relation to the country's biggest shipbuilding group Uljanik, which is fighting to stave off bankruptcy, police said on Tuesday.

"The investigation includes searching of private and business premises and is focused on 12 people," a police spokesperson said, without giving further details.

According to state news agency Hina and other local media, some former members of Uljanik's management have been arrested.

The police and Uljanik declined to comment.

Uljanik, which is 25 percent state-owned and operates two shipyards in the northern Adriatic cities of Pula and Rijeka, has been battling to stave off bankruptcy due to liquidity problems that began in 2017. Workers are currently on strike, seeking unpaid wages.

Last week, the government said it was still weighing up whether to place Uljanik into bankruptcy or to restructure the business at a cost of around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) - equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Croatia has spent more than 33 billion kuna ($5 billion) in the past 25 years to save and then sell state-owned shipyards, but those efforts have yielded little success.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the government wanted first to assess the viability of a restructuring before any decision on pouring more state money into the shipbuilding industry.

($1 = 0.8836 euros)

($1 = 6.5520 kuna) (Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Mark Potter)

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