17 January 2000 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]By Charles Thurston
Brazil's state development bank is considering a move to acquire a 30 percent stake in Copene Petroquimica do Nordeste SA, the Camacari, Bahia state producer of ethylene and other feedstocks, which has long been up for sale. The complicated ownership of Copene and the number of equity owners have delayed the sale of the unit--or part of it--to foreign buyers, among which Dow Chemical has been a visible suitor until now.
BNDES, the Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social, of Rio de Janeiro, would invest more than $400 million for its new stake in Copene, through a partnership with the Ultra Group, another Copene owner. As a first step to greater ownership, the partners plan to buy out Politeno Industria e Comercio SA, which owns 12.5 percent of Norquisa, a holding company for Copene.
Ultra already owns 10.5 percent of Norquisa. Since Ultra is a publicly traded company, the acquisition of control of Copene could be financed in part through stock sales. Nevertheless, the partnership may still require an additional investor.
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