ANKARA – A Kazakhstan-based consortium including a Russian financial investor bid $2.05 billion to win a 51 percent state-owned stake in Turkish petrochemicals firm Petkim yesterday. Analysts said the price for listed Petkim – which had sales of $1.5 billion last year – was hefty, but the deal does not require the buyers to buy out minority shareholders. The purchase is good news for the ruling Justice and Development Party, which faces elections this month, and increases foreign direct investment – needed to offset a large current account gap – after a series of privatizations were postponed or downsized this year. An adviser to the buyers, which beat seven other bidders, said the consortium, Transcentral Asia Petrochemical Holding, was Kazakhstan-based and made up of two strategic investors and Russia’s Troika Dialog. Turkish union Petrol Is said it would seek to stop the sale. Unions often seek to block privatizations, but recently sales have gone through despite challenges. The price for just over half the firm compares with a market capitalization of $1.4 billion at Wednesday’s close. One analyst said it reflected a price to 2006 earnings of 97 times, while another said at Wednesday’s close the shares were already trading around twice the price-to-first quarter earnings of peers. FDI boost The sale is part of Ankara’s broad privatization program, which is backed by the International Monetary Fund. Turkey had already attracted $14 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first four months of the year, the government said in May. Yarkin Cebeci, an economist at JP Morgan, said the sale showed demand for assets in Turkey – an EU candidate with economic growth seen at around 5 percent this year – was still strong, even amid political uncertainty ahead of polls. «The price turned out to be more than twice the expected value… The extra $2.05 billion is expected to carry the yearly FDI inflows to around $25 billion,» he said in a note. The group beat seven other foreign and local bidders, including a consortium of Azeri energy firm Socar, Turkey’s Turcas and Saudi-based Injaz Projects, which made the second-highest bid. About 40 percent of Petkim trades on the stock market. The stake being sold consists of 44 percent belonging to the Privatization Administration (OIB) and 7 percent belonging to a state pension fund. The OIB will still hold a 10.32 percent stake after the sale, which could be sold later.