04 June 2001 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Sasol has withdrawn from negotiations for Sisas' Feluy assets. The news comes just one week after the South African chemical company announced its intention to bid for the plants, which have been under court protection since last September.
In a statement Sasol said it was discontinuing discussions as it 'considered it prudent' to concentrate European resources on completing the integration of Condea, which it bought from Germany's RWE-DEA earlier this year (ECN 5 March 2001).
Pieter Cox, deputy chairman and chief executive of Sasol, said: 'The timing is not suitable to pursue this Sisas opportunity, notwithstanding its potential benefits.'
The news has not shocked the industry. One source said: 'I was surprised when Sasol announced its interest. Sasol should establish itself with Condea, then it may look at acquiring a distributor for these products.'
Sasol's decision leaves BASF as the sole potential buyer for the Feluy assets. BASF's DM295m ($132.3m) bid is currently being held up by European Commission regulators, who are concerned over its dominant position in BDO derivatives.
Trade unions are putting continued pressure on European Commissioner Mario Monti, to give BASF the go-ahead as soon as possible. Workers at the Sisas site in Feluy walked out last week over concerns that, following the withdrawal of Sasol, BASF is their last chance to save their jobs.
###10135###The action halted all chemical production at the site - which is part of Sisas subsidiaries Eurodiol and Pantochim - including phthalic anhydride, maleic anhydride, plasticisers, butanediol and BDO derivatives.
BASF's contract with the Chareloi court to buy the Feluy plants runs out on 16 June. Jean-Marie De Backer, Pantochim and Eurodiol's lawyer, said: 'If the Commission does not make a decision before 16 June, there is a serious risk of failure.'
De Backer added: 'From the point of view of the law, if no decision is made before 16 June, BASF has very limited resources to avoid failure.'
Lawyers from 10 foreign subsidiaries of Sisas are in opposition to BASF's bid. They have appealed to the court last week and ruling is expected by the end of June.
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