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Bids fall short for ex-Soviet aircraft carrier
www.chinaview.cn 2006-03-22 21:14:57

    SHENZHEN, March. 22 (Xinhua) -- The auction of the retired ex-Soviet aircraft carrier Minsk ended in an anti-climax on Wednesday after it failed to attract its starting price in Shenzhen, a booming city in South China's Guangdong Province.

    All three potential buyers said the starting price of 128 million yuan (16 million U.S. dollars) was too much and the auction ended soon after the auctioneer offered the price three times.

    The decades-old aircraft carrier, which was later converted into a floating theme park in Shenzhen, was offered up for sale to pay off the debts of its bankrupted owner Minsk World Industries Co. Ltd.

    Minsk theme park was evaluated to be worth 160 million yuan (20 million U. S. dollars) and a new round of auctioning will be held soon, according to the Guangdong-based Xuda auctioneers, which has been commissioned to handle the sale of the ship.

    Built in 1972 and put into service six years later, Minsk was retired in the early 1990s and sold to a firm in the Republic of Korea in 1995 for scrap before it went to a Chinese company.

    After 16 months' of costly renovations, the ship was turned into a military-themed entertainment world with a wide range of businesses including restaurants, beauty salons, cultural shows and trading, in addition to the main attraction of the tours to the famous aircraft carrier.

    However, Minsk World Industries Co. Ltd. failed to pay off mature debts to its Chinese bank creditors due to rapidly accumulated loan interest and was declared bankrupt by a local court in February last year.

    Despite the company's collapse, the theme park stayed in business and drew 33,000 visitors in just seven days during the Lunar New Year holiday.

    It is not only a unique military theme park in China, but also has become a symbolic tourist attraction. Tourists have expressed their hope that the ship will continue to stay in Shenzhen after the auction. Enditem

Editor: Lu Hui
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