The Ukrainian State Property Fund (SPF) proposes a starting price for a 99.6% state stake in Odessa Port Plant (OPP) at UAH13.175bn ($521mn), the SPF's head Ihor Bilous said while presenting a draft government resolution on May 18.
"All the preparations for the privatisation of the plant have been completed," Interfax news agency quoted Bilous as saying. "As a result of an independent assessment of the state-owned stake in the Odesa port-side plant, the tender commission for the privatisation set the starting price at UAH13.175bn. We are talking about a package of 795.084 million shares, which accounts for 99.6% of the company's shares."
The SPF intends to announce a tender on the privatisation of the plant by the end of May, and to finalise the deal to sell OPP before August. The sale comes under a relaunch of the government's privatisation drive that was initially planned for 2015.
OPP reported a net loss of UAH418.649mn ($16.5mn) in January-March. The company's net income fell by 1.9 times to UAH1.719bn ($6.8mn) in the first quarter, while gross profit fell by 6.4 times to UAH99.935bn ($3.95mn).
The plant is a major chemical production company, which accounting for 17% of Ukraine's ammonium nitrate capacity and 19% of urea production capacity has been hit by the country's economic crisis and financial meltdown of the past two years. Due to its strategic location on the Black Sea coast and connections to chemical transportation infrastructure, the plant is export-oriented: export sales constitute up to 85% of output, while the major export destinations are the EU and US.
Bilous also said the plant owes up to $193mn to Ostchem Holding, part of Group DF held by Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, local media reported. According to the official, the buyer of OPP would be responsible for settling the debt.
In April, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce ordered OPP to refrain from alienation or encumbrance in any way of its non-current assets until August 31, 2016, under a case brought by Firtash. However, the government believes the move does not undermine Kyiv's efforts this year to launch a massive privatisation of large state-owned companies, with OPP at the centre of the drive.
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