Monday, September 24, 2012

Romania’s Ponta Says Diaconescu Lacks Oltchim Stake Money

Romanian media entrepreneur Dan Diaconescu lacks the money to buy a majority stake in Oltchim SA (OLT), Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said, three days after winning an auction for the Romanian chemical company.

Diaconescu, 44, a politician and owner of broadcaster OTV, doesn’t have the 45 million euros ($58 million) he pledged for the 54.8 percent Oltchim stake or the 100 million euros to buy the Arpechim refinery, Ponta told reporters in Bucharest today. The Cabinet will now present a plan to manage the company for the next six months, he said.

The government is struggling to keep its pledge to sell its holding in Oltchim and a minority stake in Transgaz SA (TGN), the country’s natural-gas grid operator, by the end of this month. The sales would help unlock the next tranche of a precautionary accord with the International Monetary Fund.

“We committed to have a privatization in September, but the fact that it failed is not our fault,” he said.

Diaconescu said earlier today at the Economy Ministry that he didn’t sign a purchase contract for Oltchim because the document “was incomplete and lacks certain clauses and addenda.” Under Romanian regulations, a contract must be signed within 10 days from the time of the auction.

“The privatization will fail in case Mr. Diaconescu doesn’t pay the amount in 10 days,” Economy Minister Daniel Chitoiu said.

Oltchim’s buyer will also have the option to purchase OMV Petrom SA (SNP)’s Arpechim refinery after negotiating terms with Romania’s biggest oil company, according to a share sale announcement. OMV AG (OMV), Petrom’s majority owner, signed an accord to sell the Arpechim refinery to Oltchim’s buyer, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Sept. 18.

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