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Acron, the Russian chemicals company, has hiked its offer for Poland’s state-controlled ZA Tarnow by 25 per cent but the government still looks certain to block the bid from the country’s onetime imperial master.
Acron increased its offer on Friday to 45 zlotys ($13.06) a share, up from its initial offering of 36 zlotys in May, valuing the equity of the Polish chemical company at 2.9bn zlotys.
However, the treasury ministry, which controls 32 per cent of Tarnow, gave the raised bid a frosty reception.
“My position with regards to the offer is wholly negative, no matter what happened today,” Mikolaj Budzanowski, the treasury minister, told reporters, according to the ISB news agency.
The treasury has been trying for years to privatise Poland’s chemicals sector and Mr Budzanowski has reiterated his target of completing the sales this year, part of the treasury’s goal of raising 15bn zlotys in asset sales in 2012-2013.
Nevertheless, the ministry appears keener on using Tarnow to consolidate the Polish chemicals sector.
“The treasury hasn’t been interested from the beginning. It’s obvious they want the company to stay in Polish hands and the higher price hasn’t changed that,” said Tomasz Kasowicz, an analyst with Erste Securities, who called the 45 zlotys bid “a very attractive offer”.
Poland has been typically skittish about Russian investments. Last year, the only serious interest in the Lotos Group, the country’s second largest oil refiner, came from Russia, creating an enormous political fuss in an election year. In the end, the privatisation was halted after the treasury received no bids.
Although Poland depends on Russian oil and gas imports for a large proportion of its energy needs, there is little direct Russian investment in Poland. According to the central bank, Russia’s total direct foreign investment position in Poland as of the end of 2010 came to only €25m.
Acron, one of the world’s largest chemicals companies, has said it wants to buy Tarnow to get better access to the EU market. In its offering on Friday, it said it wanted to buy at least 66 per cent of Tarnow but also that it would consider buying a smaller stake.
Acron set a Monday deadline for acceptances to its offer. This will allow it to see whether management’s efforts to set up a “poison pill” defence at a shareholder’s meeting on Saturday is successful.
Management has said the rights issue – which could be as much as 75 per cent of the existing share capital – is needed to buy ZA Pulawy, another state controlled chemicals company currently being pursued by Synthos, a Polish synthetic rubber maker.
Vladimir Kantor, Acron’s vice president, said in a statement: “Of course completion of the tender process and acquisition of shares will only be possible if the risk of share capital dilution is mitigated.”
Uncertainty over the bid was reflected in the stock price. Shares jumped by 11 per cent as the Warsaw Stock Exchange opened but then settled down for a 5.5 per cent gain, closing at 38 zlotys.