Appeal filed against court suspension of refinery selloff

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s privatization agency (OIB) appealed yesterday against a court decision suspending the sale of state oil refiner Tupras to Russia’s Tatneft and Turkish group Zorlu, officials at the agency said. A court ruling made public on Monday stated the $1.3 billion deal was not in the public interest and violated competition rules. Labor union Petrol-Is, which represents Tupras workers, had brought the suit, saying the sale would cause job losses. Tupras is the latest in a series of key state selloffs to have been hit by delays or cancellations and has raised concerns about Turkey’s faltering privatization program, agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund under a $19 billion loan accord. Tatneft, Russia’s sixth-largest oil firm, and local financial and industrial group Zorlu sought in January to purchase 66 percent of Tupras in the sale. The Russian-Turkish joint venture had been due to sign the agreement in May, but a lawyer for Petrol-Is said OIB’s appeal could take around a month. Petrol-Is chief Mustafa Oztaskin told a news conference workers would interfere with production if the court’s decision was not upheld.