Slovnaft wants investor by end '99

Slovak oil refiner Slovnaft is aiming to get a foreign strategic partner by the end of 1999, the company's general director Slavomír Hatina said on May 3.

"The time frame is until the end of the year... we are already approaching selected potential investors. Then, of course, lengthy negotiations will follow," Hatina told reporters.

Hatina said that Slovintegra, Slovnaft's current majority owner, would like to forge an agreement with the strategic investor to jointly control at least 67% of Slovnaft. Hatina himself is also head of Slovintegra.

"Our idea is to create an alliance of these two strategic investors (including Slovintegra) that would jointly own at least 67% of shares," Hatina said.

Hatina said he expects Slovnaft to post higher gross profit in 1999 than the year before, but that net profit would depend on devaluation and crude oil prices.

In March, Slovnaft said its unaudited 1998 gross profits had fallen to 909.6 million Sloval crowns ($21.44 million), less than a third of the 3.113 billion gross profit it posted in 1997.

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