Last-minute offers again delay French refinery decision

Tue Nov 6, 2012 10:40pm IST

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* NetOil's offer still incomplete - administrators

* Six other candidates send letters of intent

* Court to convene on Nov. 13 to set to deadline

By Michel Rose

PARIS, Nov 6 (Reuters) - A decision on the fate of France's oldest refinery has yet again been delayed on Tuesday after more parties showed last-minute interest in taking over the plant of insolvent Swiss refiner Petroplus.

NetOil, led by Middle Eastern businessman Roger Tamraz, submitted a new, improved offer to take over the Petit-Couronne refinery on Monday, unveiling a deal with British oil major BP and Hyundai.

Some six other candidates had sent letters of intent to the court in Rouen, northern France, pushing it to say it would only decide on a new bidding deadline on Nov. 13, judicial administrators for the former Petroplus plant said.

The Petroplus Raffinage Petit-Couronne (PRPC) administrators said in a statement NetOil's offer was still incomplete and had not presented all the administrative authorisations necessary to operate the refinery.

Hong-Kong-based Alafandi Petroleum Group (APG), whose initial offer had been rejected last month, had reached an agreement with a UK-based bank and asked for a delay to finalise its offer, PRPC said.

Libya's sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, is also among potential bidders having presented letters of intent.

French Industry minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Monday he had asked the court to postpone its decision to allow Libya to invest in the refinery.

Other candidates are Jabs Gulf Energy Ltd, an Iraqi company owned by Abu Dhabi's Hanna Al Shaikh Group, Iran's Tadbir Energy Development Group (TEDG), Swiss consortium Activapro AG, and Terrae International SA, another Swiss company.

Five bidders had asked for a delay of at least three months to study the case and submit offers, PRPC said.

The Petit-Couronne refinery was placed under legal protection after its Swiss-based owner Petroplus filed for insolvency last year. (Editing by James Jukwey)

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