Iran restarts privatisation of NPC, may sell majority stake - source

10 May 2010 15:45  [Source: ICIS news]

By Will Beacham

An oil refinery in IranLONDON (ICIS news)--Iran is restarting the privatisation of its National Petrochemical Company (NPC) and may consider selling a majority stake to international investors, a source close to the initiative told ICIS news on Monday.

According to the plan, all NPC’s production assets would be placed into a single entity which could then be sold in part or as a whole to investors including the international petrochemical industry.

NPC’s non-production assets would become an “incubator”, raising capital in the markets and becoming a co-investor in new projects, the source said.

Iran’s government has tasked NPC with developing a detailed privatisation plan which it hopes to approve by the end of the Iranian new year, in March 2011. It was not clear whether international expertise would be brought in to help develop the plan, the source added.

“A big share of NPC will probably be sold to the state’s pension funds but they want international investors and may be willing to sell a majority. Asian companies, perhaps the Chinese, Koreans or Japanese would be interested,” said the source, adding that US and European chemical companies would find it hard to participate because of political pressure. 

“This privatisation would interest petrochemical players who want to build a presence in the Middle East and want access to cheap feedstocks and material,” the source added.

Previous attempts to privatise NPC have failed, but this plan was quite definite and “the closest they’ve got to it in the last few years,” said the source, who cautioned that domestic political instability and any change in leadership could derail the scheme.

“There is a strong belief that NPC can be better run outside the state. They recognise that NPC might get easier access to technology if it is not state-owned.” 

NPC, the second largest petrochemicals producer in the Middle East, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s Asian Chemical Connections blog
For more on Iran’s NPC visit ICIS company intelligence
Please visit the complete ICIS plants and projects database
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

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By: Will Beacham
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