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October 19, 2021
BUSINESS

PM Ponta: Oltchim privatisation resumed in six months if Diaconescu fails to pay

The government would appoint an administrator for the plant. Company employees say the situation is not improving, so they are resuming protest today.

The Government is ready to appoint new management to Oltchim and order the special administration of the plant is Dan Diaconescu fails to pay for the shares by Monday and, within six months, it will resume the process of privatisation with a strategic investor, PM Victor Ponta announced during a press conference also attended by Economy Minister Daniel Chitoiu, yesterday, Mediafax reports.  The Executive will also award the company a loan from existing privatisation funds to enable the restarting of the plant. The Government could release the loan in approximately two weeks’ time, starting with October 1, after notifying the European Commission about its action. PM Victor Ponta has also invited Russian investors to the privatisation of the Oltchim chemical plant, says the online page of the Itar-Tass news agency. ‘I would have liked Oltchim to also have a big investor from Russia’, because ‘I am first thinking about job security’ and less about ‘media shows’, Itar-Tass states, paraphrasing the PM’s statement made in Slatina. According to the prime minister, the appointment of a special administrator of Oltchim does not necessarily mean insolvency for the company. He said Dan Diaconescu has until October 1 to pay the price of the shares, in which case the money could be given further to Oltchim to finance production, as a safeguard loan for a maximum period of six months, until the shares are transferred to the new owner. ‘If he pays before Monday, we are ready to discuss all procedures regarding investment, debt management and Arpechim. But we are also taking into account the fact that he may not pay by Monday, in which situation we are ready to designate new management, a special administrator whose task will be to stop the damaging contracts and discuss with private creditors such as Electrica and banks, and to resume activity with government assistance in the form of working capital from privatisation funds. Within six months, after consulting with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, we will resume privatisation with a strategic investor,’ the prime minister also said.  Plant can still operate without completely taking over Arpechim The PM also said Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea could operate ‘for the most part’ also without completely taking over the Arpechim Pitesti refinery from OMV Petrom (SNP). ‘The most important part of Arpechim for Oltchim – the pyrolysis installation – has been with Oltchim already for two years now. The only thing useful to Oltchim is the naphtha installation, which may or may not be transferred to Oltchim, and which entails some important costs and environmental investment Arpechim would need to finance. For the most part, Oltchim can run without Arpechim,’ Ponta continued. The Government stipulated in the Oltchim privatisation paperwork that the new owner of the chemical plant was to negotiate with OMV Petrom directly the take-over of Arpechim. ‘I have a letter from OMV Petrom showing they were willing to sell Arpechim to the new Oltchim owner,’ Ponta added.A worrying fact is that the employees of Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea have decided to resume protest today, saying they have no more hope while the plant is still not running and they have not received their pay for August, labour union leaders announced yesterday. The leader of the protesting employees of Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Corneliu Cernev, noted that the talks at the Ministry of Economy, on Monday, had been ‘without substance’, with no positive result and that the authorities make contradictory statements. ‘At some stage, Remus Vulpescu went to speak to Minister Chitoiu for an hour. I don’t know what they talked about, but the PM’s statement that the privatisation process had failed and would be resumed in February des not coincide with what Vulpescu told us – that negations for the finalisation of the agreement would continue,’ Cernev further said

Dan Diaconescu asks Valcea Tribunal to cancel part of Oltchim’s debt

Dan Diaconescu is asking the Valcea Tribunal to annul a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of Shareholders of Oltchim including in the debt to AVAS approximately EUR 130 M representing interest, the OTV owner bringing the argument that the state may not sell ‘interest that is not owed.’Diaconescu’s lawyer, Daniel Fenechiu, yesterday explained that the action taken in the Valcea court sought the annulment of the proposed inclusion of interest in the AVAS receivables from Oltchim, the argument being that such a decision was illegal as the motion was introduced long after sending out the meeting notice. Therefore – the lawyer says – the inclusion of interest in the AVAS receivable was done by breaking the legal procedures. Diaconescu’s legal representative argues that no interest is charged for consolidated receivables in euro and that the state acts in a double capacity: as creditor, via AVAS, and debtor/shareholder through the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Business Environment – OPSPI. The lawyer added that the inclusion of such interest in the AVAS receivables would set a dangerous precedent that might affect about 2,000 companies in the future. According to OPSPI data, Oltchim owes AVAS USD 165 M (principal) and RON 554 M (final interest).

 

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