Swiss Amicus and Brazil's EMS bid for Serbian drugmaker Galenika

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Swiss-based drugs company Amicus SRB and Brazilian pharma group EMS SA have both made binding bids for a 93 percent stake in Serbian drugmaker Galenika, Serbia’s Economy Ministry said.

Belgrade wants to sell Galenika as part of an effort to privatize, shut or trim unprofitable state firms under a 1.2 billion euro ($1.4 billion) deal with the International Monetary Fund, but the drugmaker’s debts have so far put off investors.

The Economy Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the envelopes with the details of the offers will only be opened once the bidders’ credentials have been verified.

“At this moment it is not possible to set the exact date for the opening of financial offers, but it ... is expected in the second half of October,” the ministry said.

“The commission ... is checking the documentation after which it will ask the Economy Ministry to either approve submitted bids or set an additional deadline for (the delivery) of additional documentation,” it said.

Under the terms of a tender the government offered its entire 93-percent stake at the starting price of a nominal one euro, but the new owner will have to repay 25 million euros of company debt.

The tender also stipulated that the annual turnover of the prospective bidders is no less than 300 million euro ($352 million).

In August, the government and state-run gas retailer Srbijagas took on a combined 14.7 billion dinars ($147 million) of Galenika’s debt in exchange for an 8 percent stake, increasing their total share in the drugmaker to 93 percent.

The remaining seven percent of the shares belong to small shareholders.

In 2013, Belgrade attempted to privatize Galenika but the sole bidder, Canada's Valeant VRX.TO, pulled out, citing the hostility of local unions as one factor.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle