Vitol Group apparent winner of state-held Ventspils Nafta shares

  • 2006-10-06
  • By TBT staff
The largest privatization in Latvian history was completed on Oct. 6 with the total sale of the Latvian government's 38.62 percent stake in Ventspils Nafta.

The majority of the state held shares were reported by Latvian Economics Minister Aigars Stokenbergs to have been purchased by international oil and gas company Vitol Group. The sale has been reported to have earned the government 74.2 million lats (104-107 million euros).

Speaking to the Latvian public Television program '100.pants', Stockenbergs announced the purchase of about 36 million of the governments 40.3 million shares, giving Vitol Group 34.5 percent ownership of the Latvian multi-business group Ventspils Nafta.
However, the exact information of who purchased the government's shares and how much they purchased will be known when the money transfers are completed. Under the terms of the privatization, full disclosure must come three days after the sale is completed, official confirmation of sale results will be announced next week.

The Baltic News Service reported that a total of 43 purchase orders were submitted during the auction and 37 of them had been satisfied, including the largest order for 18 million shares. "If somebody spoke about having a strategic investor, we have one here," the minister told the Baltic News Service.

Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said in an interview with Latvian public Television said that it was good that Ventspils Nafta privatization had finally been completed. "There was no apparent benefit from the state-held stake in Ventspils Nafta therefore it was better for the state to sell the shares, take the money and invest it in the further development of the country," the president said.

Investor owned Vitol Group was founded in 1966 and is one of the world's largest independent oil traders with a turnover of $80.6 billion (63.5 billion euro) last year. The company has representations in 20 countries.
Vitol Group had talked to Ventspils Nafta's management during the road show presentations held in Moscow ahead of the auction. The Vitol Group showed interest in the state-held stake of Ventspils Nafta back in 2004, and at that time had offered to hold a meeting with New Era led Latvian government representatives.

The auction on the Riga Stock Exchange on Thursday sold all the state-held 38.62 percent of 40,345,556 shares in Ventspils Nafta at the price of 1.84 lats (2.62 euros) per share, which means that the state would receive 74.2 million lats for its holdings in Ventspils Nafta, according to the Baltic News Service.

Ventspils Nafta has a registered capital of 104.5 million lats, consisting of the same number of shares with par value of one lat each. The Latvian state was the second largest shareholder in Ventspils Nafta after Latvijas Naftas Tranzits (Latvian Oil Transit), which holds 49 percent.

Ventspils Nafta shares are quoted on the official list of the Riga Stock Exchange. Ventspils Nafta group has holdings in a number of companies, including Ventspils Naftas Terminals oil reloading terminal, LatRosTrans oil pipeline operator, Latvijas Kugnieciba shipping company, Preses Nams publishers, and others.