MEXICO CITY — Four resin producers with strong local ties will be likely bidders for one of Mexico's state-owned petrochemical plants, a chemical industry analyst said.
According to Gilberto Ortiz, adviser to the Chemical Council of Mexico's manufacturing chamber, C mara Nacional de la Industria de la Transformacion (Canacintra), the four companies that can bid for 49 percent of Petroquimica Morelos SA de CV are:
Grupo Idesa SA de CV, a Mexico City-based company whose holdings include Poliestireno y Derivados SA de CV, or Polidesa;
Resirene SA de CV, a Mexico City-based unit of chemical holding company Girsa SA de CV;
Polioles SA de CV, a Mexico City-based joint venture between Grupo Alpek, the chemical division of Grupo Industrial Alfa of Monterrey, Mexico, and BASF AG;
Celanese Mexicana SA de CV, or Celmex, a Toluca, Mexico, unit of Grupo Celanese SA.
Ortiz believes those four may be alone in meeting prerequisites for Mexican majority participation, technical experience and financial ability to make the investment.
Morelos, in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, produces high density polyethylene and polypropylene, in addition to chemicals. The complex is part of the state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicana's chemical division.
Mexico's Energy Ministry published a request for bids Sept. 14.
``The explanation of Mexican majority ownership is not clear,'' Ortiz said Sept. 15.
The ministry said a buyer has to have Mexicans as majority owners or be headed by a Mexican. Celanese is the single questionable case: The company is quoted on the Mexican stock market with majority ownership by the Saba family, but is minority owned by Hoechst AG of Frankfurt, Germany.
Idesa, Celanese and Polioles have confirmed their interest in the Morelos plants.
An industry source who asked to remain unidentified said BASF Mexicana SA de CV is not interested in a minority share of a plant. Pemex plans to retain a 51 percent share of Morelos.
Ortiz believes that the sale price may be low, and ``probably the companies will not want to miss out on this opportunity.'' The ministry expects a decision on the bids by Feb. 19.
In the meantime, a dumping investigation launched by Polidesa and Resirene against European importers of crystal polystyrene, including BASF, continues. A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20. The investigation is being spearheaded by Mexico's trade ministry, Secretaria de Comercio Industrial y Fomento.
One PS supplier, Polimeros SA de CV, said the market is highly competitive.
``Some of my competitors sell products that I know are under cost,'' said marketing director Ricardo Leon.