Petroplus Holding AG’s Petit-Couronne oil refinery in Normandy has attracted five bids, two of which are “serious,” French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said.
Offers from Swiss investor Terrae and Egyptian energy company Arabiyya Lel Istithmaraat “appear serious and financed,” the minister said in an e-mailed statement today. The government has worked with the potential acquirers to “save jobs and refining capacity.”
A Rouen court had set a deadline of today for offers to take over the 154,000-barrel-a-day refinery that was put in administration after Zug, Switzerland-based Petroplus filed for insolvency in January 2012. The plant was the fourth French crude processor to halt operations in about two years as European refining profits dwindled.
The government may take a minority stake in Petit-Couronne to help keep the “money-losing” site running, Montebourg said earlier.
French unions have fought to keep the plant open. It employs about 470 workers.
“The government has made jobs a priority, we’re going to hold them to it,” Yvon Scornet, a union representative, said in a statement today.
The Rouen court last year rejected offers from Dubai-based Netoil Inc. and Alafandi Petroleum Group for Petit-Couronne, saying the bidders didn’t respond to questions about their technical and financial capacities. The refinery ran for about six months last year under an agreement with Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (RDSA)
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