ECONOMY

Romania to unveil Petrom sell-off plan in two weeks

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania will unveil plans for the privatization of national oil company SNP Petrom within two weeks after talks with international lenders, Economy Minister Dan Popescu said yesterday. The sale of a majority stake in Petrom – whose total market value is estimated at around $2 billion – in 2003 is crucial under Romania’s accords with international lenders. «We are currently in talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,» Popescu told reporters. «Our (privatization) strategy envisages two weeks of breathing space (to make a final decision on a plan) which does not mean we fail to stick to deadlines but we want to avoid making further changes in the announcement after we launch it,» he added. Government officials previously said the Petrom sell-off announcement would be made yesterday. «This is not a delay, our aim is to gather the views of international lenders on that plan before the government approves it,» Laurian Badulescu, chief of the Economy Ministry’s Privatization Office, told Reuters. Officials said earlier this month that one option for Petrom’s privatization would be to sell around 30 percent to a strategic investor or a consortium run by a strategic investor. The buyer would then raise its stake via a share capital increase. Petrom has a share capital of 37.73 trillion lei. Officials have said major players such as US firm Chevron Texaco, BP, France’s TotalFinaElf, Royal Dutch/Shell, Austria’s OMV and Russia’s Lukoil were among the potential investors.