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Sale of Romanian PVC producer Oltchim assets postponed again

By: Richard Higgs
EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS

April 23, 2014

The long anticipated privatization of insolvent Romanian PVC producer Oltchim has been postponed yet again, this time until mid-May.

A March 28 deadline for filing binding bids to purchase Oltchim SPV, the “special purchase vehicle” containing core debt free assets of the Oltchim SA, passed with no offers received. One foreign bid is reported to have been received after that deadline.

The Romanian government agreed to a 45-day delay at the request of key potential bidders who are hopeful they could receive an enhanced package, which would also include the Romanian Arpechim oil refinery.

Those would-be investors, said by Oltchim’s administrators to include a Chinese consortium and a Romanian investment fund, are waiting for the government to conclude purchase talks with Pitesti-based Arpechim’s owner Petrom, part of the Austrian OMV oil group.

The government is expected to combine Oltchim SPV assets with the Arpechim refinery, which was shut down by Petrom two years ago.  Oltchim acquired Arpechim’s petrochemicals business, including an ethylene cracker and low density/high density polyethylene extraction, in 2010, but then suffered from a serious feedstock shortage.

Companies in the Chinese consortium interested in buying the enhanced Oltchim package are understood to be Baota Petrochemical Group and Junlun Petroleum, while the Romanian bidder is said to be SIF Transilvania.     

Râmnicu Valcea-based Oltchim, with debts still amounting to 700 million euros ($967.2 million), employs around 2,000 and has been operating at less than 30 percent of capacity.   

The successful buyer of the package is likely to have to deal with environmental liabilities at the Arpechim refinery amounting to several hundred euros, according to Romanian media reports.