Czech firms may team up with Russian fuel firms in their attempts to take control of PKN Orlen's refining assets in the Czech Republic, daily Puls Biznesu writes, citing speculation in the Czech press. Other potential partners for the Czechs in the endeavour include Azeri SOCAR and Kazakh KazMunaiGaz.
This guessing game is not new to the market as it is likely that a substantial minority position has been built in (169 CZK, 0,00%) by a buyer who may intend to play over its shares to a third party. (With a 7.49% stake in , some speculate that this buyer could be J&T Banka.) With an average ROACE of 1.5% in the last five years, has exerted a massive drag on PKN’s returns. Hence we believe PKN would happily sell at least the refining part of the business. Retail in the Czech Republic is profitable and is likely to remain so, particularly if the price war between (25,75 EUR, 0,10%) and Tank ONO ends and releases pressure on unit margins. However, PKN will likely be hard-pressed to separate the units in a potential transaction. Also, as always, the price would need to be right for this to be a deal shareholders get excited about. PKN is about to release its new strategy, which may provide further information on PKN’s intentions. A month ago, PKN Orlen’s CEO Jacek Krawiec hinted at several details of the company’s new strategy but added that the disposal of Czech operations was off the table. Instead, PKN is trying to fight against the high pipeline tariffs charged by Mero (with a potential appeal to the European Commission) and the black fuel market.