Czech ministry confirms refiner stake offer from Shell

17 April 2013 16:25  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Royal Dutch Shell is offering to sell the Czech government its 16.5% stake in Ceska rafinerska, the refiner that provides petrochemical producer Unipetrol with feedstock, the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry would consider what the government’s response to the Shell offer should be once it had consulted other ministries on whether it would be possible to make the acquisition as part of a wider state policy of securing the Czech Republic’s refining and oil pipeline supplies, it added.

Ceska rafinerska was last year faced by a lack of Russian crude exports, with Russian distributors choosing to send supplies along more profitable routes made possible by newly completed infrastructure.

The Czech government is exploring an option to combine state-controlled pipeline operator Mero with Cepro, which administers the Czech national oil reserves.

Ceska rafinerska’s other current shareholders are Unipetrol and Italy’s Eni, which hold 51% and 32.5%, respectively.

Poland’s PKN Orlen oil and petrochemical group, which controls Unipetrol, has dismissed speculation that it might be gearing up to sell the Czech subsidiary back to the Czech state or another buyer.

However, Czech government sources say Orlen is under pressure to turn around the fortunes of Unipetrol.

In November last year, Orlen said it had assembled a management team tasked with re-establishing the profitability of Unipetrol. On 8 April, Unipetrol announced a new CEO, Marek Switajewski.

Switajewski has less than two months to meet Unipetrol’s announced objective of releasing its latest five-year strategy – the publication of which has been delayed for more than a year – within the first half of this year.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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