The companies Južna Bačka and Elektromontaža, currently run by a financier who had helped the Serbian Progressive Party come to power, have multiplied their revenues thanks to business with the Serbian government in recent years, mainly with public enterprise Elektroprivreda Srbije (Electric Power Industry of Serbia – EPS), reveals an analysis conducted by BIRN.
In 2019, Južna Bačka generated revenue of 6.8 billion dinars in transactions with the state, or over 58 million euro, of which 6 billion came from contracts concluded with EPS. This is eight times more than in 2010, when the company earned 792 million dinars in doing business with the state, or just over 6 million euro.
The owner of Južna Bačka, Dragoljub Zbiljić, was the sole guarantor of the half-million euro loan, taken by the SNS party in 2012, to be used in the election campaign.
Since February 2021, Dragoljub Zbiljić has also become the owner of Elektromontaža, a company from Kraljevo, which in recent years have concluded substantial contracts with EPS.
In 2010, this company earned almost 358 million dinars (3 million euro) in doing business with the state and in 2019, almost 3 billion dinars (27 million euro), i.e. 9 times more than in 2010. Of that three billion, two and a half were made through doing work for EPS.
Zbiljić took over the company from Nenad Kovač, a long-time business partner of Nikola Petrović, an official of the SNS party and a close friend of President Aleksandar Vučić.
Energy experts interpret this as a kind of cartelisation, and a market monopoly, in which these two companies won over the entire power infrastructure market and the most profitable deals. Both companies have a large number of subcontractors, who work for them.
One of the reasons for favouring Južna Bačka and Elektromontaža and their meteoric rise must be sought in the proximity and ties of these companies with the ruling Serbian Progressive Party.
The increase in revenues through doing business with the state could be justified if the quality of services or efficiency were at a very high level, but analysis of public data indicates that the huge increase in profits has caused the number of competing companies to fold.
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