The National Property Fund has invited investors to express interest in the Unipetrol privatization today. The invitation says that the state’s 62.99% stake in the petrochemicals group might be bundled with receivables towards some of the companies in the holding held by the state bailout agency, CKA, and with a 9.76% stake in Spolana, a Unipetrol subsidiary, held also by the CKA. Both are subject to government approval. The NPF will assess the expressions of interest and selected investors will be invited to a tender after November 20.
The content of the invitation is not surprising; unfortunately, it does not offer a concrete plan with respect to the Unipetrol receivables held by the CKA. Recall that the most urgent is the situation in the Benzina subsidiary, a fuel retailer. Its liabilities could be either transferred from the banks to the CKA (and possibly offered with the state’s 63% stake in Unipetrol to an investor), or the banks might decide to auction some of the assets of Benzina to cash-in debt, which could significantly hurt Benzina’s operations and complicate the privatization of Unipetrol.
Pavel Kuta, the NPF vice-president, said that no minimum privatization price has been set.
The sale is not accompanied by restrictive conditions as in the first privatization attempt. The government is expected to discuss the final bids by the end of March 2004.
Separately, Unipetrol reported its 9M consolidated CAS figures yesterday. While the top line met our expectations, margins were worse. Nevertheless, the consolidated figures are of little importance as the main subsidiaries had already reported their 9M results (mostly worse than expected, especially the poor results at Chemopetrol and Kaucuk). Moreover, Unipetrol is currently a pure privatization play (a buy-out should take place after its sale, at 85% of the privatization price).
CZKm 9M 2003 9M 2002 %change
Revenues 48,084 43,670 10%
EBITDA 4,086 3,234 26%
EBIT 1,039 585 78%
Pre-tax Income -52 -60 13%
Minority Interest 132 4 3016%
Net income 87 -8 -1204%
EPS 0.48 -0.04 -1204%