Thursday, April 22, 2010

Romania to Sell Minority Stakes in Key Energy Companies

By Irina Savu

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Romania plans to sell minority stakes in key energy companies, including OMV Petrom SA and utilities Transelectrica SA and Transgaz SA in nine months to fund infrastructure projects.

The government will raise “a very significant’’ sum through the sale of the stakes on international bourses and the Bucharest Stock Exchange and possibly through auctions, Economy Minister Adriean Videanu said at a press conference today in Bucharest.

“We’ll identify the most advantageous solution for the stake sales, we will list them or negotiate the sale through open bidding,’’ Videanu told reporters. “The money will only fund infrastructure projects.’’

Romania, which suffered its worst recession on record last year, is relying on a 20 billion-euro ($26.8 million) bailout package led by the International Monetary Fund to finance its budget deficit, as state revenue dwindled. It also turned to international markets this year for funds and raised 1 billion euros by selling euro-denominated bonds in March for the first time in since June 2008.

The administration, which owns 20.6 percent in Petrom, plans to retain at least 8 percent in the country’s biggest oil company, after selling a minority stake. It may also exercise a contract option to sell its minority stakes in the Romanian units of Enel SpA and E.ON AG to its majority owners, Videanu said.

Gas Share Sales

The eastern European country may sell shares for the first time in gas producer Romgaz SA, while keeping its majority holding in the company. Romgaz and Petrom each hold a 50 percent share of Romania’s total gas market.

Romania will also set up public-private partnerships with international investors, such as Enel, CEZ SA of the Czech Republic, Germany’s RWE AG, Gas de France and Tokyo- based Itochu Corp., worth as much as 3 billion euros ($4 billion) though next year to build or update infrastructure, Videanu said.

The partnerships may target a planned project to build and operate two liquefied gas terminals together with Azerbaijan and Georgia, the planned construction of the third and fourth nuclear reactors at Cernavoda near the Black Sea and a second nuclear power plant in the country.

Romanian energy companies plan to increase their investment by about 65 percent to a total of 8.3 billion lei ($2.7 billion) this year, Videanu also said. The companies have already secured these funds from their own revenue or by contracting loans.

To contact the reporter on this story: Irina Savu in Bucharest

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