Sale of stake in Unipetrol attracts around 20 companies and consortia

Sep 12, 2001 02:00 AM

Around 20 companies and consortia have shown preliminary interest in the upcoming government tender for a 62.99 % stake in Czech petrochemical and refinery group Unipetrol, a government agency said. The National Property Fund, or FNM, which handles the privatisation of state assets, said the Unipetrol privatisation had sparked strong investor interest.
"The applicants come mainly from Europe, however companies outside of this continent also showed certain interest," the statement said. In early August, the Czech government invited potential strategic investors to submit indicative bids including a business plan by Sept. 7.

Investment bank HSBC (HBC) is advising on the sale of Unipetrol, which produces a range of petrochemical products at its refineries and processing units. The government is hoping to complete the sell off in the first quarter of 2002.
Unipetrol fully controls a petrochemical firm, a rubber producer and has large majority stakes in the leading fuel distributor Benzina and crude oil refinery Paramo. It also owns 51 % of the largest Czech oil refiner Ceska Rafinerska, in which a consortium of a unit of Italian energy group ENI, the US energy group Conoco and Shell holds the remaining 49 % stake.

Members of the Rafinerska consortium are all expected to bid for the Unipetrol stake, either alone or as a group. Local analysts say Shell or ENI may team up with Russian petrochemical company Sibur, a unit of natural gas giant OAO Gazprom, which had earlier declared its interest in bidding in the upcoming tender. Czech agrochemical group Agrofert Holding and Austria's oil and gas concern OMV have also been touted as potential investors.

Source: Dow Jones via Energy24
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