Egyptian investor pulls out of bidding process for French refinery

08 March 2013 17:15  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--France’s efforts to find a buyer for the 161,800 bbl/day Petroplus refinery at Petit Couronne, northwest of Paris, suffered a setback on Friday as an Egyptian investment firm pulled out of the bidding process.

Arabiyya lel Istithmaraat said it was withdrawing because of the great complexity of the judicial process, as well as tight timelines and Istithmaraat’s relatively late entry into the process – all of which made it impossible to fully assess the viability of investing in the plant, according to a statement to French media.

Last month, France’s minister for industrial renewal had characterised Istithmaraat as a serious bidder for Petit Couronne.

French state television reported that three potential buyers are left following Istithmaraat’s withdrawal: Libyan firm Murzuk Oil, which aims to acquire the refinery in a joint bid with a Switzerland-based investment firm; Dubai-based Netoil; and Cyprus-based FJ Energy Group.

France has been trying for some time to find a buyer for the refinery following the insolvency last year of independent European refiner Petroplus.

Over the past months, government and labour union officials have named investors from Hong Kong, Dubai, Indonesia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Switzerland, Egypt and elsewhere as potential buyers of the refinery. However, so far no deal has been concluded. 

Petroplus had acquired the refinery from Shell in 2007. Shell, for its part, ruled out re-purchasing the plant.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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