Poland’s state-controlled oil and gas company PKN Orlen has launched an offer to take over Czech refiner Unipetrol, the Polish company said on December 13.
PKN Orlen said it will go through with the buy-up if it manages to secure upping its stake in Unipetrol to 90%. However, the Polish company’s eventual goal is to take full control of the Czech company and delist it.
PKN Orlen, which currently has a 62.9% share in Unipetrol, is offering CZK380 (€14.8) per share for the Czech downstream business. That is virtually on a par with Unipetrol’s stock price of recent weeks. Unipetrol’s share traded at CZK377 in afternoon trade on the Prague Stock Exchange, growing 3.3%.
Taking its stake in Unipetrol to 90% as planned will cost PKN Orlen PLN3.05bn (€720mn), while scooping up all the shares of the Czech company will put the price tag at PLN4.2bn, PKN Orlen said. The offer puts Unipetrol’s valuation at nearly CZK69bn.
“The current ownership structure prevents PKN Orlen from reaping the full benefits of the initiatives we have put in motion in the Czech Republic, including our efforts to improve the refining and sales efficiency and our investments in the petrochemical assets,” Orlen’s CEO Wojciech Jasinski said in a statement.
Jasinski also said that “minority shareholders have expressed different expectations regarding the dividend policy.” The largest minority shareholder, Slovak-Czech J&T Financial Group has been at odds with the Poles over Unipetrol’s dividend, pushing for higher payouts.
Orlen’s tender offer will last from December 28 to January 30, Orlen said.
Orlen’s involvement in Unipetrol also has a timely political undertone since Czech billionaire Andrej Babis took over at the helm of the Czech minority government in early December.
Agricultural and chemicals conglomerate Agrofert, which is owned by Babis, claims PKN Orlen promised to sell it some of the assets it bought when taking over the Czech petrochemicals company in the privatisation. However, that never happened, with Babis seeking redress until the Czech Supreme Court ruled against Agrofert in September last year.
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