Poland offering ZAT stake to EBRD - government source

16 April 2013 16:45  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Poland is offering the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) a stake of at least 5% in Europe's second largest fertilizer producer, Zaklady Azoty Tarnow (ZAT), to thwart moves by Russia's Acron to up its stake in the group, a Polish treasury ministry source said on Tuesday.

The ministry last year defeated a near-half-a-billion-euro hostile bid for ZAT (which has switched to the name Grupa Azoty for marketing purposes) from mineral fertilizer producer Acron by arranging for the group to merge with fertilizer, melamine and caprolactam (capro) producer Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy (ZAP) via a share swap.

However, the transaction left the ministry holding a 45% stake in ZAT – under Polish law, the ministry must now either make an offer for the ZAT shares it does not own or reduce the stake to 33% by 24 April.

Having chosen the latter option, the ministry is concerned that it may be paving the way for Acron to build up its stake in ZAT from its current 12.9% to “a level that might give it too much unwelcome influence in ZAT and eventually lead to another hostile bid”, the source said.

A purchase of ZAT shares by the EBRD – owned by 64 countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank – could block that possibility, he added.

In late March, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk stated Poland would protect certain natural gas-reliant energy and chemical players from Russian takeovers and competition because Russia often uses its natural gas export policy as a “political weapon”.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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