28 April 2006 12:21 [Source: ICIS news]
By Prema Viswanathan
SHANGHAI (ICIS news)-A period of uncertainty looms large in the Iranian chemical sector as new supremo Asghar Ibrahimi Asl shakes up state-owned National Petrochemical Co (NPC).
At least 20 top NPC officials have been transferred since the appointment of Ibrahimi Asl last December and more reshuffles are in the offing, a company spokesman said on Thursday. NPC sources said the reorganisation was aimed at enhancing the company's efficiency.
The reshuffle has raised questions over future investments in ?xml:namespace>
Ibrahimi Asl replaced Mohamad Reza Nematzadeh, who had turned the near 50-year old sleepy company into a regional petrochemical power house with an ambitous expansion programme.
Some of the incumbents are former employees of Petropars, a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), which was Ibrahimi Asl's former employer.
"As a result, they are still learning the ropes of the petrochemical industry," said one source close to NPC.
Two weeks ago, Mohammad Ehtiati, chairman of NPC's trading and marketing arm Iran Petrochemical Commercial Co (IPCC), was replaced by Mohemadi, who was another ex-PetroPars staff, the company spokesman said. Seyed Hassan Sadat, director of projects at NPC, has been replaced by Nabhani, also from Petropars, he added.
Aside from the restructuring, Ibrahimi Asl also has to grapple with the bigger geo-political risk that could undermine his efforts. Investments into the country had already slowed due to the dispute between President Ahmadinejad and the West over
If the confrontation results in UN sanctions, the new NPC president may have to contend with a further slowing down of projects and investments.
The exit of Ehtiati from the IPCC chairmanship has also put a question mark over the phasing out of subsidies for polymers that state-owned companies have to pay in the domestic market.
Ehtiati had been a vociferous proponent of reducing or even eliminating the subsidies and introducing market price dynamics into the domestic market. He had been confident that the government would accede to his pleas and remove the subsidy system with the start of the new Iranian year in early April.For now there have been no signs of that, and sources close to the company are increasingly sceptical whether the subsidies will be removed at all. If they are not, it could seriously dent the profitability of IPCC, the sources said.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
|ICIS news FREE TRIAL|
|Get access to breaking chemical news as it happens.|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX). Download the free tabular data and a chart of the historical index|
Asian Chemical Connections