Oltchim is far from exiting insolvency and, even worse, can’t seem to attract no offer for the purchase of its shares. Furthermore, any potential takeover is hampered by the European Commission – the Bruxelles officials suspect that including Arpechim in the “privatization kit” might be a covert state aid for OMV Petrom. Meanwhile, chunks of the chemical plant are sold as scrap, and the company seems to shift towards new business activities.
According to Oltchim officials, its balance sheet is much improved. Not long ago, a new department (oxo-alcohols) was tested and, if powered up, would increase the company’s production capacity, “from 25%, which is our current state, to about 40%”, as estimated by Ion Vancea, president of the Valcea branch of Cartel Alfa union, who reckons the new department would employ some 1,000 people.
According to Gheorghe Piperea, one of the judicial administrators involved in Oltchim’s insolvency, for the first seven months of the year, the company reported a turnover of 11 million euros and an operating profit of 0,25 million euros.
All kinds of scrap
In the meantime, the company got tangled in various scandals. For example, a few weeks ago a local publication, Vocea Valcii, published two contracts signed in 2013 providing the sale of tons of metallic and non-metallic waste, such as prepared and unprepared austenitic stainless steel scrap. Austenitic stainless steel is a high quality, non-magnetic, corrosion-resistant steel. The contracts were signed in May and October last year: at that time, Oltchim was managed first by Mihai Tălpăşanu, then by Marius Pârvu, while the Economy Ministers were Varujan Vosganian and Andrei Gerea. There is a significant price difference between the two contracts: while in May the prepared scrap was sold at a price of USD 1,680 per Ton and the unprepared one, at USD 1,500, in October, the priced had radically decreased until USD 1,020 for the prepared scrap and 975, for the unprepared one.
On the other hand, the company goes through a continuous restructuring process involving shutting the less cost-effective departments and boosting the lucrative activites. All rentable assets were already transferred on a new company, Oltchim SPV, with no debts (as opposed to the 700 million euros reported by Oltchim).
The NACE saga