Yesterday, Cabinet gave a green light to two acquisitions for Unipetrol-Paramo, a small refinery, and Aliachem, a chemical conglomerate being sold by its bankruptcy administrator. Unipetrol will pay CZK 141 mil. for the 71% stake in Paramo, and CZK 815 mil. for the 49% stake in Aliachem (to be precise, Agrobohemie, 50% owned by Unipetrol, is acquiring Aliachem). Neither of the acquisitions will likely help Unipetrol stock, since restructuring costs and extra debt related to the acquisitions will be immediate, while synergies and other potential benefits are more long-term. Nonetheless, we do not change our investment opinion on Unipetrol (short-term accumulate, long-term buy) in light of the two acquisitions. Fortunately for Unipetrol, the state-owned Konsolidacni banka is willing to reschedule Aliachem’s CZK 2 bil. debt repayment. The tender for Paramo was unusual in that the government sold its stake to Unipetrol, although the latter was not the highest bidder. Norex of Canada, which submitted the highest bid, will reportedly challenge the government’s decision.
Separately, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has until the end of September to submit to Cabinet its intentions regarding chemical-sector policy, including a broad proposal on how to privatize Unipetrol. M. Gregr, the minister of industry, yesterday spoke in favor of selling Unipetrol as a whole entity (as opposed to selling it business by business).