Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Romania to start Petrom offer next week

BUCHAREST, July 5 (Reuters) - Romania will start to accept bids for a 9.8 percent stake in Petrom , the country's top oil and gas firm, from July 11 or 12, a source told Reuters.

The sale is part of a government plan to raise 2.9 billion lei ($998 million) this year on the Bucharest bourse, according to the terms of agreements with the International Monetary Fund and other lenders. .

Analysts had questioned the timescale, given previous delays in state sell-offs, and the Petrom process will be closely eyed for signs of the government's commitment to other sales.

"The offer is scheduled to start on (July) 11 or 12, the National Securities Commission will give an OK this week," said the source, who has direct knowledge of the process.

Romania owns a 21 percent stake in Petrom, in which Austrian group OMV holds a majority. Fondul Proprietatea , an investment fund set up to compensate Romanians whose assets were seized under communism, owns another 20 percent.

Officials have previously said the sale was expected to raise more than 500 million euros ($728 million). Romania's economy minister said in June the government planned to sell the stake by the end of this month.

Other planned sales include 15 percent stakes in state-owned power and gas utilities Transelectrica and Transgaz and in unlisted gas producer Romgaz.

The government has also pledged to sell minority stakes in major energy and transport companies by the end of this year under its new IMF-led aid deal. (Reporting by Ioana Patran; Editing by Sam Cage and Dan Lalor) ($1 = 2.905 lei = 0.6872 euro)

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