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Daily Telegraph (UK): Iran loses race for Basell due to US pressure ( 6 May 05


By Malcolm Moore (Filed: 06/05/2005)


Shell and BASF yesterday gave in to pressure from the United States and decided not to sell the world's largest maker of polypropylene to Iran. 


Instead, Basell, which makes the plastic which is used from everything from DVD cases to yoghurt pots, was sold for 4.4billion (3billion) to Haldia, an Indian chemicals company. Haldia is backed by Purnendu Chatterjee, an Indian entrepreneur, and Leonard Blavatnik, a Russian oil billionaire.


Until yesterday, the Iranian state oil company was leading the race for Basell. However, a promise not to include Basell's Louisiana plant in the deal was not enough to placate stiff US opposition.


Mohammed Reza Nematzadeh, the president of National Petrochemical of Iran, blamed American lobbyists who want to keep up pressure on Iran to drop its nuclear programme.


"Although NPC won all aspects of the Basell tender, due to US pressures we are unofficially told Iran cannot buy Basell," Mr Nematzadeh told ISNA, the Iranian news agency.


"The enemy has always inflicted harm on us and this time the United States deprived us of the benefit of buying Basell," he added.


Shell declined to comment on the auction process, and on what it would spend its 2.2billion share of the proceeds. One analyst said the hitch with Iran had led to fears that Basell would not fetch a good price, and that the market had been relieved about the final sum.


Basell is based in the Netherlands and has plants in 20 countries. The polypropylene it makes can be used in anything from frozen chips bags to car dashboards. It is thought that Haldia is particularly keen on the company's state-of-the-art chemical manufacturing technology, which will boost its position as it competes with Reliance, India's largest petrochemical firm.


One analyst said the $12billion to $15billion that Shell will receive from sales between 2004 and 2006 will probably be returned to shareholders.;sessionid=GJULV44HR2W3XQFIQMGSNAGAVCBQWJVC?xml=/money/2005/05/06/cnbasel06.xml&menuId=242&sSheet=/money/2005/05/06/ixcity.html&menuId=242&_requestid=41998


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