New moves by potential investors in Romania's state-owned PVC producer Oltchim SA have raised fresh hope that the insolvent chemical company may at last be privatized.
Representatives of a Chinese petrochemicals producer, said to be interested in acquiring the firm, are set to meet with the Oltchim receivers in Romania this week.
The unnamed Chinese business is understood to want to exploit crude oil in Romania to supply the raw material needed to operate the Oltchim chemicals plant at Râmnicu Valcea, according to local media reports.
The Chinese hopeful believes that it has advanced technology capable of extracting around 65 percent of Romanian oil reserves currently untapped because this oil is too viscous to extract through conventional means, explained receiver Gheorghe Piperea.
With adequate feedstock, the Oltchim plant would be in a position to operate at 65 percent of capacity rather than the current 30 percent, the lawyer was quoted as pointing out. The unnamed Chinese investor wants to integrate more with Oltchim's activities, he added.
There was press speculation that the Chinese bidder could be Junlun Petroleum, reported to have held earlier meetings with Romanian government officials including Mihai Tudose, the economy, trade and tourism minister.
Junlun was reported to have been part of a Chinese partnership among previous potential Oltchim buyers expressing interest in bidding to buy the Romanian chemicals business, although it did not make any acquisition proposals in February, when the company had sought investors previously.
Meanwhile, Oltchim, which was declared insolvent two years ago, has shown signs of improving its operating performance in recent months. In the first half of 2015, the firm achieved an operating profit of 1 million euros ($1.1 million), and the receivers hope that it will also end the year in profit.
After repeated attempts to sell off the 54.8 percent state interest in Oltchim failed, its administrators recently presented a reorganization plan for the company to Oltchim's creditors. It provides for Oltchim's sale at a minimum price of 307 million euros ($339 million).
The receivers are confident they can expect the final sell-off of the ailing chemical company soon. This could be as soon as early next year if the interested Chinese firm bids “a good price” after “making its calculations,” Piperea was quoted in Romanian media as saying, adding that everything is ready for a sale.
Meanwhile, a previous Romanian bidder for Oltchim, Chimcomplex Borzesti, reiterated its continuing interest in acquiring the insolvent business.