The American investor claims a non-transparent process and a
privatisation time-table that did not give any well-intended investor the possibility of submitting a legitimate and defended bid.
American company OmniTRAX, eliminated from the privatisation of CFR Marfa as the envelope it had submitted to the Ministry of Transport did not contain the preliminary and non-binding bid, last week filed a claim disputing the procedure for the sale of 51 per cent of the registered share capital of the cargo railway operator, digi24.ro reports. The company wants the privatisation to be suspended pending the settlement of its claim.
‘(…) This notice is the proof of a non-transparent process and of a privatisation time-table that did not give any well-intended investor the possibility of submitting a legitimate and defended bid, as the procedure only allowed one week for the auditing of the over 10,000 documents containing unprocessed data,’ reads a company release. OmniTRAX says it has asked to be given access to accurate accounting records CFR Marfa SA is bound to keep on a monthly or yearly basis, such as balance sheets, syntactical and analytical reports, accounting fiches of specific accounts, signed by company officials, and routine audit procedures. Although the information is not privileged and should have been made available to the bidders, OmniTRAX did not get access to it – the representatives of the American company claim. ‘Under these conditions, no well-intended investor such as OmniTRAX could have submitted by 5 June 2013, according to the requirements of the privatisation procedure, both a real non-binding bid (adjusted to the development needs of CFR Marfa) and the comments on the sale and purchase agreement, alongside a five-year restructuring plan able to transform a state-owned enterprise buried in debt and inefficient into a profitable rail transport company capable of bringing benefits to Romanian economy and citizens’, the release further notes. Company officials also say that, although they had repeatedly asked for an extension of the audit period to 45 days for analysing information and making an offer, the company also having the official confirmation of the International Monetary Fund that the financial institution may not interfere with the time-table of privatisation and that any decision in that respect was with the relevant Romanian ministry, the ministry refused to grant the extension with the argument of its commitment towards the IMF.
Rail carriers association: ‘a series of inadequacies and errors’ have occurred
The Association of Rail Carriers of Romania (ATFER) says the Ministry of Transport ought to organize a new procedure for the privatisation of CFR Marfa as ‘a series of inadequacies and errors’ have occurred, hotnews.ro informs. ATFER also denounces the fact that the company’s debt towards CFR Infrastructure as well as the state has been erased, which ‘discriminated against other market operators, unduly upsetting what should be fair competition’. ATFER President George Buruiana does not exclude the possibility that, as a result of the wiping out of its debt, CFR Marfa may become attractive to other investors as well, not just to those already in the race, in case of a new privatisation procedure. As for the explanation Transport Minister Relu Fenechiu gave, that the erasing of the debts had been part of the privatisation strategy all along, George Buruiana said it was just ‘a possibility, not a certainty’.