Poland's ZAT shielded from a second bid by Russia's Acron - bank

04 April 2013 17:25  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Russia's Acron Group is unlikely to succeed with a second attempt at taking over Poland's Zaklady Azoty Tarnow (ZAT) by making use of new opportunities to increase its stake in the chemical group, an investment bank said on Thursday.

Mineral fertilizer producer Acron, which has lately built up its direct and indirect holding in ZAT to 11.47% from 8.91%, could be among investors interested in bidding for a 12% stake in ZAT which stock market law is forcing the Polish treasury ministry to divest, said WOOD & Company.

However, with the treasury ministry having in mid-March firmed its grip on the management of ZAT through a board resolution that restricts other shareholders to exercising voting rights representing no more than 20% of the group, a second Acron takeover attempt – following its failed near-half-a-billion-euro hostile bid in July last year – would probably prove futile, the bank added.

“The Polish treasury deputy minister Rafal Baniak has stated that the treasury will adhere to the deadline in the last week of April [for divesting the 12% stake] and has underlined that with the new resolution in place, providing a 20% cap on voting rights, ZAT is well protected from a takeover attempt,” said Piotr Drozd, a chemical industry analyst at WOOD & Company.

Baniak's statement follows comments made by Polish prime minister Donald Tusk at a 26 March press conference in which he said Poland would protect certain natural gas-reliant energy and chemical players from takeovers and competition because Russia often uses its natural gas export policy as a “political weapon”.

The treasury ministry was left holding a 45% stake in ZAT in January following a share swap in which the ministry handed over to ZAT its 50.7% shareholding in Polish fertilizer, melamine and caprolactam (capro) producer Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy (ZAP) in return for 2.5 ZAT shares per ZAP share.

Polish law requires the ministry to either reduce its stake to 33% or announce a tender to acquire the 67% of ZAT it does not own.

ZAT already trades under the Grupa Azoty brand name which it intends to use for all its subsidiaries once its merger and consolidation process is sufficiently progressed.

Earlier on Thursday, Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) said the ZAT group, now Europe's second largest fertilizer producer behind Norway's Yara International, is a 'top pick' when it comes to selecting central and eastern European companies that stand to benefit from a world economic recovery the bank expects to see in the second half of this year.

The group produces a range of nitrogen and multi-component fertilizers as well as capro, polyamide 6 (nylon 6), melamine, titanium dioxide (TiO2) and oxo-alcohols.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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