Bidders Line Up For Croatian Ena Oil And Gas Monopoly

Eager bidders are lining up for part of the twenty five percent stake that is up for tender in Croatia's largest company, the state controlled oil and gas monopoly Ina, a source close to the deal said yesterday.

”We are looking at some 20 investors,” the well informed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency.

Croatian radio has said that the Italian energy group ENI as well as Austria's OMV, MOL of Hungary and some Russian companies were interested in Ina, Croatia's largest company, with consolidated 2001 revenue of approximately $1.9 billion.

The tender, which was launched on May 10th, expired yesterday but it said in a statement that it was too early to reveal any investor names since they might still withdraw from further bidding.

Privatisation advisers Deutsche Bank and PriceWaterhouseCoopers informed the government that they had contacted and supplied information about the sell-off process to a number of interested parties, the statement said.

These potential strategic buyers will next be asked to provide what it described as “a detailed approach to privatisation, including how they envisage the strategic partnership and further development of the company”.

The radio quoted the Deputy Prime Minister Slavko Linic as saying they were expected to inject fresh capital for Ina's further investment projects to enable its further growth, and not close down any of its oil fields or cut jobs.

Ina currently has seventeen thousand employees in the country.

The detailed offers are due by June 14th and are vital to presenting a binding offer at a later stage, the statement added.

Ina is a vertically integrated company covering production, processing and also trade in oil and gas, with an output of over two million tonnes of crude and 1.8 billion cubic metres of natural gas in 2001.

It also operates a retail network of 450 outlets in Croatia and neighbouring countries, with home sales of 1.2 million tonnes of derivatives last year.

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