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Po-r cancels Nafta contracts with IPB All

During talks with the FNM state privatisation agency on August 18, lawyer Milan Ružbarský submitted a statement to FNM officials signed by Vladimir Po-r, owner of the Slovak company Arad. The contents of the letter appeared to resolve a recent dispute between the state and Po-r over the future of the lucrative gas storage company Nafta Gbely.
According to the document, Arad, which controls Nafta Gbely and its sister company Nafta Trade, has canceled all contracts with the Czech firm IPB-All - meaning that the Nafta properties may soon be back in state hands.
Po-r announced on June 22 this year that he had sold Arad, and thus the Nafta properties, to a Czech buyer who was reportedly acting for American energy giant Cinergy. The sale frustrated the government, which had been trying to acquire nafta for itself.

During talks with the FNM state privatisation agency on August 18, lawyer Milan Ružbarský submitted a statement to FNM officials signed by Vladimir Po-r, owner of the Slovak company Arad. The contents of the letter appeared to resolve a recent dispute between the state and Po-r over the future of the lucrative gas storage company Nafta Gbely.

According to the document, Arad, which controls Nafta Gbely and its sister company Nafta Trade, has canceled all contracts with the Czech firm IPB-All - meaning that the Nafta properties may soon be back in state hands.

Po-r announced on June 22 this year that he had sold Arad, and thus the Nafta properties, to a Czech buyer who was reportedly acting for American energy giant Cinergy. The sale frustrated the government, which had been trying to acquire nafta for itself.

FNM officials confirmed that the Po-r document bore the signatures of authorized IPB-All representatives.

Officials with the state fund said that the letter helped them to reach an out of court settlement with lawyer Ružbarský on August 18. The settlement ensures that a 45.9% stake in Nafta Gbely controlled by Arad will now be returned to the FNM, while Nafta Trade will be sold. Ružbarský explained that it was this condition - the sale of indebted Nafta Trade - that had earlier held up the signing of a settlement with the FNM.

Nafta became the focus of a public tug of war this summer between the Economy Ministry and the FNM after Economy Minister Ľudovít Černák announced plans to concentrate the Nafta properties under the state gas firm SPP. Both the FNM and the ministry were embarrassed, however, by the sudden sale of Arad to the mysterious IPB-All firm.

Until the IPB-All purchase, Trnava-area entrepreneur Vladimir Po-r had been holding talks with the government on transfering his stakes in Nafta Gbely and Nafta Trade to a joint stock company established by the FNM and the SPP. After the June 22 sale, however, FNM President Ľudovít Kaník was accused by Černák and Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda of having been in cahoots with IPB-All and Po-r; his resignation was demanded.

Kaník, for his part, said he had acted in good faith, and demanded that Černák resign over the matter.

The balance appeared to tip in favour of the FNM when the Supreme Court issued a preliminary injunction banning the firm Druhá obchodná (which originally bought Nafta Trade in 1996 and is now owned by Arad) from handling the shares of Nafta Gbely on July 20. FNM legal counsel Ernest Valko had filed the proposal to block the handling of Nafta shares in early March together with an indictment attacking the validity of the original privatization deal between the FNM and Druhá obchodná.

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