TIRANA Dec 10 Albania has held off signing a
contract to sell state-owned oil company Albpetrol after
would-be buyer Albanian-U.S.-owned Vetro Energy failed to make a
deposit to back the sale, an official said on Monday, which
could mean the deal is in jeopardy.
Speaking a week after a second deadline to sign a contract
expired, Deputy Energy Minister Sokol Dervishaj said Albania
would still give Vetro a chance if it made the deposit.
Vetro Energy offered to buy all the shares of Albpetrol for
850 million euros ($1.1 billion), which is equal to 10 percent
of Albania's gross domestic product.
"The contract has not been signed, and the company has not
deposited 20 percent of the contract (as a) guarantee,"
Dervishaj told reporters.
"Hence, the ministry has started seeking the 10 percent of
the company's tender offer guarantee," Dervishaj said.
This means that should the talks collapse, Albania wants to
claim the cash already deposited, which according to Vetro was
at Chicago-based American Chartered Bank.
Dervishaj said any decisions on the future of the deal would
be taken by the government along with its advisers, U.S.
consulting firm Patton Boggs, but it continued to nurse hopes of
"If the company will deposit the guarantee worth 20 percent
of the contract, we shall have all the necessary flexibility to
take it into consideration and give the company the necessary
chance to continue the negotiations," Dervishaj said.
Neither Dervishaj nor Vetro have given any details on why
the deal failed to go through. Albania badly needs the money
because its public debt will exceed 60 percent of the gross
domestic product next year.
Albanian oilman Rezart Taci, who emerged as Vetro's majority
shareholder after hiding his name until the end of the tender,
said three weeks ago "the financing arrangements and investment
of capital are in place".