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The state Anti-Monopoly Office has taken a second decision related to Unipetrol privatization

12.9.2002 9:34
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The Czech Lidove Noviny daily reports that the state Anti-Monopoly Office has taken a second decision related to Unipetrol privatization. The objections to the sale to Agrofert, the privatization tender winner, reportedly relate to the production of fertilizers (which has low importance in Unipetrol’s production portfolio, though).

Agrofert has to pay the state the agreed price of EUR 361 mil (CZK 95 per share, 15% less than in January 2002, when the tender was awarded, due to CZK appreciation) for the state’s 63% stake in Unipetrol. As for the timing, Agrofert has 15 days (as of September 4) to make objections to the AMO decision, if not disputed, the decision becomes valid (September 19), and Agrofert would need make payment by September 24.

Also, V. Srba, who is in charge of privatization at the Ministry of Industry, confirmed that the state could accept a lower price for Unipetrol due to flood-related damages incurred by the company (Unipetrol estimated its flood damages at more than CZK 2 bil., or CZK 11 per share). Seperately, the AMO has fined several fuel distributors for cartel-like behavior; the total fine reportedly amounts to several hundreds of millions of CZK. Benzina, 94% owned by Unipetrol, was among the fined companies; it will appeal the decision.

Benzina’s 2001 net reached CZK 41 mil., while the 2002 net is expected at near zero, thus the fine would likely have a huge relative impact on its bottom line. Nevertheless, the news is of minor importance relative to the current Unipetrol stock drivers (privatization, flood damage).

Jiri Soustruznik

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