21 August 2012 15:48 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Pressure is mounting on Poland's treasury ministry to withdraw its support for Zaklady Azoty Tarnow's (ZAT's) plans to take over fellow state-controlled chemical group Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy (ZAP), after a ZAP union said it had held a protest outside the ministry in Warsaw on Tuesday.
The Associated Trade Union of Professional Engineers and Technicians of ZAP, which mounted the protest, wants the takeover process reversed so ZAP takes over ZAT, rather than vice versa, or for there to be at least “a merger of equals”.
In recent years ZAP achieved better financial results than all its Polish peers and had, unlike elements of the ZAT group, never turned to the state for financial assistance, according to the trade union, which represents 283 of ZAP's 3,500 employees.
The current takeover plan has already come under fire from the Workers’ Council of ZAP – an advisory and consultative body which believes ZAP is in a stronger position than ZAT to lead the further consolidation of major Polish chemical industry assets that remain in state hands.
However, the ZAP management is currently refraining from commenting on the matter, preferring to leave the ministry – as the 50.7% majority shareholder in ZAP – to resolve the controversy.
The ministry said it was considering objections received from the Workers’ Council and ZAP unions.
On Monday, ZAT said it would push ahead with the takeover bid – despite only picking up 10.3% of ZAP following a cash offer for 32% held by various minority shareholders.
ZAT aims to gain control of ZAP by using a share-swap agreement – conducted at a rate of 2.5 ZAT shares per ZAP share – to acquire the stake in ZAP held by the treasury ministry.
ZAT has demonstrated experience in chemical industry consolidation in the past two years by successfully integrating multi-component fertilizer and titanium dioxide producer Zaklady Chemiczne Police and nitrogen fertilizer and oxo-alcohols producer Zaklady Azotowe Kedzierzyn into the ZAT group, the company said.
The treasury ministry has estimated that the combination of the fertilizer divisions of the ZAT and ZAP groups would create the second-largest fertilizer producer in Europe.
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