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RABAT, Dec 28 (Reuters) - The court-appointed manager of Morocco's only oil refiner, Samir, has received a $3 billion offer for the business from a foreign conglomerate, he said on Wednesday, without naming the bidder.
The manager added, however, that he would press ahead with plans to seek expressions of interest from other potential buyers.
The 200,000 barrels a day refinery was shut down in 2015 due to financial difficulties. A court ruling then placed it in liquidation and named an independent trustee to run it.
Restarting production will be a prerequisite for investors interested in buying the company. Attempts to do so before seeking a buyer have been frustrated so far by difficulties in finding a supply of crude oil.
"We were planning to launch expressions of interest this week, but we have received an offer of 31 billion dirham ($3 billion) from a foreign conglomerate," Mohamed El-Krimi, the trustee running the company, said.
"We think that it is a serious offer until proven otherwise, but the court will invite expressions of interest anyways," he added.
El-Krimi declined to give the bidder's name but he confirmed a report from business news website Medias24 saying the offer was submitted through Italian law firm Studio Mazzanti and Partners.
The court in charge of the liquidation is expected to decide on the pricing of the company on Monday after reviewing experts' reports, El-Krimi said.
Last week, the court gave El-Krimi another three months to finish the liquidation process and seek buyers for the company. He has been working to evaluate the company's assets and debt since 2015, when a judge ordered its liquidation.
Samir, in which Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi's Corral Holdings had a 67.26 percent stake, has been battling creditors ranging from oil traders to banks.
The Moroccan government says Samir owes it 13 billion dirhams in taxes and its total debt is hovering around 44 billion dirhams.
At just under 300,000 barrels per day, Morocco's national petroleum consumption is Africa's fifth largest, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration
$1 = 10.2130 Moroccan dirham Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Potter