Contrary to a story that appeared on the Web site of one of India's largest newspapers, there is no connection between President Bush's youngest brother and one of the firms that trumped an Iranian bid to buy global polyproylene leader Basell Polyolefins.
A May 6 story on the Calcutta (India) Telegraph Web site linked Winston Partners, a McLean, Va., investment firm founded by presidential sibling Marvin Bush, with Chatterjee Group, the New York firm that teamed with Access Industries Inc. to buy Basell in a $5.7 billion deal announced May 5.
While it's true that a Winston Partners LP is part of Chatterjee Group, that firm is not related to Marvin Bush's Winston Partners, according to Chatterjee Chief Financial Officer John Flanagan.
``You wouldn't believe the calls I've been getting,'' he said in a May 10 phone interview. ``People think that just because something gets in print ... that it's true.''
Flanagan described Winston Partners LP as a Delaware-based investment partnership operated by Chatterjee Group. ``There's no connection between [Chatterjee Group] and the Bush family,'' he said. ``It's a total coincidence that there are two entities using the name Winston Partners.''
The Iranian angle - state-owned Iran National Petrochemical Co. had been linked to Basell as a possible buyer for several months - made the supposed Bush connection all the more juicy. The Telegraph said Marvin Bush ``is reported to be one of the financiers who helped [Chatterjee] pull off the audacious $5.7 billion deal for the Dutch petrochemicals giant.''
Flanagan said the reporter he spoke with did not understand that the Winston Partners that Flanagan was discussing was not the one founded by Marvin Bush.
Mary Mellus, client service and marketing director at Marvin Bush's Winston Partners, confirmed May 10 that her firm has no links to Chatterjee Group.
Although the Bush connection proved untrue, a number of industry sources said U.S. government officials discouraged Basell owners BASF AG and Royal Dutch/ Shell Group from accepting the Iranian bid because of the U.S. trade embargo vs. Iran. Basell generates about 20 percent of its annual sales - almost $1.8 billion last year - from North America.
In a May 4 news briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was asked if the U.S. government had expressed concern to BASF of Ludwigshafen, Germany, and London-based Royal Dutch/Shell about the possible sale to Iran NPC. Boucher said, ``It's no surprise that in this environment [the U.S.] might have some concerns about Iran's acquisition of a multinational corporation ... with certain levels of technology.''