The FINANCIAL -- Romania will make a
new bid to sell its loss-making chemicals group Oltchim if the winner of
a tender last week, a shady TV mogul, does not pay up before Monday,
Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Tuesday.
If Dan Diaconescu, owner of the private television station OTV, "does not come up with 45 million euros ($58 million) before Monday, we are prepared to name a special administrator ... and launch a new privatisation bid in six months, after consulting the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank ," Ponta told a press conference.
Diaconescu, 44, won the open tender to buy a 54.8 percent stake in the industrial chemicals group on Friday, offering 45 million euros, or more than ten times the starting price.
Other bidders included the German chemicals and energy company PCC, a current minority shareholder in Oltchim, and two companies owned by Romanian businessman Stefan Vuza.
But on Monday, Diaconescu, who is facing trial over blackmail, refused to sign the contract, arguing he had found "mistakes," and left the country.
Analysts have called into question his ability to raise the 45 million euros and invest tens of millions more to keep the company afloat.
Oltchim, which produces chemicals and plastics including PVC, was forced to shut down last month due to a cash crunch after accumulating more than 400 million euros in debts to the state and the country's electricity supplier.
The company, which employs 3,300 people, posted a net loss of 46.8 million euros last year on sales of 362 million euros.
Ponta said that if privatisation was to start all over again he hoped to find a major investor who would get Oltchim out of the red.
Romania has promised the IMF and the EU to sell Oltchim this month.
As EUbusiness reported, in May 2009, the Balkan country obtained a 20-billion-euro rescue package from the IMF, the EU and the World Bank in exchange for drastic spending cuts.
In March 2011, the IMF and the EU agreed to provide a fresh credit line of 5.0 billion euros, to be drawn upon only in case of emergency.