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ExpressIndia.com: Iran says expects to win bid to buy Basell

ExpressIndia.com: Iran says expects to win bid to buy Basell

Reuters

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tehran, May 1: Iran said it was better-placed to buy polymer joint venture Basell than its Indian rivals and expects to be the final winner in the sale process, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Saturday.  

BASF and Shell are set to decide within days on the sale of Basell to Iran’s National Petrochemical Company (NPC) or to a set of Indian investors.

If successful, it would be the biggest commercial investment abroad by Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“We are still negotiating for buying Basell, but it has not yet reached a conclusion; although NPC is in a better position than its competitor,” NPC Managing Director Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh was quoted as saying.

The deal is likely to value Basell at up to 4.4 billion euros ($5.7 billion). Analysts say this could fetch BASF and Shell one billion euros each after subtracting the debt component from the price.

“From a contractual point of view, NPC is in good position and will be the final winner, but the decision rests with the shareholders,” Nematzadeh said.

The National Petrochemical Company is a subsidiary of the Iranian petroleum ministry, a fact that might complicate a deal given the strained relations between Iran and the United States, home to some of Basell’s assets.

One non-Iranian source close to the situation said that the US assets would be carved out of Basell in the event of a deal with the Iranians and sold separately.

The Indian bid is from a consortium including investor Purnendu Chatterjee, a set of funds and trade buyer Haldia Petrochemicals.

BASF wants to focus on other plastics businesses, while Shell has been seeking to withdraw from lower-margin chemicals.

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