MEXICO CITY-The Mexican government has set the ground rules and opened bidding in its privatization of the first of four major secondary petrochemical complexes of state oil giant Petr¢leos Mexicanos (Pemex). The Cosoleacaque complex in Veracruz state holds little interest for the plastics industry outside its 8.8 million-pound-per-year paraxylene plant, but the rules of sale are unlikely to differ greatly when the La Cangrejera and Morelos complexes, also on the Gulf Coast, are offered for sale in early January.
Bidding for the remaining complex, Pajaritos, will be opened in the first quarter of 1996.
Bid procedures and conditions for the first complex were announced Nov. 14 in the Mexican government's Diario Oficial and in full-page advertisements carried in leading national newspapers.
Bidders registering with the Energy Ministry must provide audited accounts demonstrating their financial capacity, show at least three years' experience running petrochemical or fertilizer plants and have development plans for the complex and petrochemical industry.
Pemex Director General Adri n Lajous said 80 percent of the offered business will be acquired by the successful bidder, while Pemex will retain 20 percent for as long as five years. The share to be retained by Pemex in succeeding sales will vary between 20 percent and 33 percent.
The new private company will have to retain the complex's work force, currently numbering 2,488, and continue to employ members of Mexico's powerful oil workers union STPRM. Union leaders abstained in a vote on the state sell-off at Pemex's recent management board meeting.
Lajous also said the new owner will have to pick up the tab for any work still incomplete on hand-over involving environmental deficiencies at Cosoleacaque disclosed in a government ecological audit done last year.
He said no major deficiencies were found, but Pemex is committed to carry out the work, valued at around US$10 million.
A public hearing will be held April 22 to present each bidder's detailed proposal, and on April 27 the successful firm or firms will be revealed. The new joint venture firm is to be formed May 3. The deal will close in August.
Lajous declined to provide details of valuations Pemex has made on the petrochemical plants, to avoid prejudicing the bidding, he said.