Romanian minister says rail company sale fails
BUCHAREST Oct 14 (Reuters) - Romania plans to relaunch the privatisation of its rail freight carrier after a deadline for the prospective buyer to pay 170 million euros ($230 million) for a majority stake expired on Monday with no money entering state coffers, officials said.
In June, the government sealed a deal to sell a 51 percent stake in indebted rail freight carrier CFR Marfa to a sole bidder, Romanian company Grup Feroviar Roman (GFR), under the country's commitments with the International Monetary Fund.
The privatisation of CFR Marfa was a requirement for a 5 billion euro aid agreement designed to shore up Romania's finances and stabilise the leu currency - an agreement which was completed this fall.
"We had a deadline and no money could be paid by it. We consider that this sale has failed," Transport Minister Ramona Manescu told a late evening news briefing.
She said the process will be relaunched but declined to offer a time frame.
In a separate statement, GFR said some of CFR Marfa's creditor banks "did not approve changes in the company's shareholder structure and the country's competition watchdog did not have the needed time to issue a ruling."
"We were summoned (to the ministry) and told that finalising this privatisation is not possible," said GFR's Grampet Group president, Gruia Stoica.
The European Union member has required IMF aid deals since 2009 after a credit bubble burst.
Successive cabinets have made great strides in lowering the budget deficit to below the EU's 3 percent threshold, but have delayed key asset sales and reforms of state enterprises. ($1 = 0.7361 euros) (Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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