Turkey tries to privatize Petkim for second time

ANKARA (AFP) – The Turkish government will open bidding for the state petrochemicals firm Petkim beginning next Monday, the news agency Anatolia reported, after canceling a first auction won by a controversial business family at war with the government. Interested bidders were invited to submit their offers before November 18. The state privatization board had canceled the first sell-off on August 6, saying the tender winner, Standard Kimya, a company owned by the Uzan family, had failed to fulfill the required conditions. The decision came as a fresh blow to the Uzan family, one of the richest in Turkey, whose moneymaking power utilities and banks have recently been seized by authorities over irregularities. The Uzans claim the onslaught is the result of a campaign led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to block the rise of a political party led by one of the family scions, Cem Uzan, who is seen as the strongest challenger to the government in next year’s local elections. In June, Standard Kimya made the highest bid – of $605 million – in an auction for the sale of the State’s 88.86-percent stake in Petkim. Media reports have said the family was facing difficulties in acquiring the necessary bank guarantees for the payment after running into trouble with the government. The Uzans are no strangers to controversy and have faced countless court battles involving allegations of fraud. The Turkish government in June took control of two of the Uzans’ power utilities on the grounds that they failed to obey regulations.