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Government Approves Sale of Unipetrol to PKN Orlen

The Czech Cabinet on Wednesday approved the sale of the Czech petrochemical holding Unipetrol to Poland’s petrochemical giant PKN Orlen, Finance Ministry spokesman Marek Zeman told Interfax.

PKN Orlen was the only company of the three shortlisted in the second round of the tender to submit a binding bid for the 62.99 % state-owned stake in Unipetrol.

PKN Orlen offered CZK 11.05 bn for the Unipetrol shares held by the FNM, CZK 1 bn for Spolana shares, and CZK 1 bn for claims against the company held by the Czech consolidation agency (CKA).

The government’s adviser on the sale recommended Cabinet accept the PKN bid, saying it met all formal conditions of a transparent, clear and competitive privatization process.

The commission says PKN Orlen is a strong, strategic, and financially stable investor that will contribute to the future development of the Czech chemical and petrochemical industry.

Two other bidders shortlisted for the Unipetrol stake in January – the British/Dutch concern Royal Dutch/Shell and Hungary’s MOL -- pulled out before submitting final bids.

PKN Orlen made its bid independently, without official partners; however, in January it signed a preliminary agreement with the US giant ConocoPhillips.

In November 2003, PKN Orlen signed an agreement on cooperation with the Czech company Agrofert, which won the previous tender for Unipetrol, which fell through when the winner failed to pay the EUR 361 mln price in September 2002.

(Interfax 30.iv.04)

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