Representatives of one of China's largest shipbuilding conglomerates are in Croatia to discuss possible investment in Croatia's financially troubled Uljanik and Treći Maj shipyards.
Executives from the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and other officials in Zagreb on Monday. They will be visiting the shipyards in Pula and Rijeka tomorrow. The visit is a last resort for the Uljanik Group, which owns the two shipyards and is trying to stave off bankruptcy. Monday’s meeting was not expected to yield any concrete outcomes. Following the meeting, the head of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, Hu Wenming, said the matter would be given serious consideration.
“The Prime Minister proposed his request very openly and frankly. We will pay our visit to the two shipyards tomorrow and give this very serious consideration,” Hu told reporters.
During the 16 Plus One summit in Dubrovnik earlier this month, China pledged to increase trade with Central Europe and provide more financial support for major cross-border infrastructure projects. At the summit, Premier Li Keqiang said a Chinese delegation would look at Uljanik.
Hu did not say when a final decision would be made on Uljanik.
"We do not only have here the people from our own company, who are in charge of overall planning and business operations, but we also invited the lawyers and investment banks to pay the visit. So, after the visit we will give it full consideration and make our own assessment," Hu said.
Prime Minister Plenković said the meeting was very open and detailed.
"We described in transparent and real terms what Uljanik and Treći Maj mean for Croatia's shipbuilding industry. We also described their current problems. So, we expect that after the visit to the shipyards in Rijeka and Pula, they will carefully assess and consider the options of investment or partnership," Plenković said.
Expecting more at this time would not be prudent, he added. Economy Minister Darko Horvat and Uljanik's chief executive Emil Bulić also could not say what would happen next.
Union representatives were disappointed that they were not invited to the meeting. They believe they should be taking part.
A court in Pazin last week postponed a bankruptcy ruling for the Uljanik Group until May 13.
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