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The United States is ratcheting up the pressure on Basell, a European company which is the world's top maker of the plastic polypropylene, to prevent its purchase by Iran, a senior official said.
“All evidence is indicative of the fact that the National Petrochemical Company is the winner in the tender for Basell sale. The current foot-dragging in naming the winner is due to pressure applied by the United States on the venders,” NPC chief Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh told reporters.
Iran's state-owned National Petrochemical Company (NPC) is trying to buy Basell from Germany's BASF and Royal Dutch/Shell in a deal that could be Iran's biggest commercial investment abroad since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
But the transaction expected to be worth around 4.4 billion euros ($5.7 billion) has been complicated because some of Basell's assets are based in the United States at a time when relations with Iran are extremely difficult.
Nematzadeh said: “Ten companies are bidding to purchase Basel and NPC has managed to attract all views by offering proper prices.”
A US State Department official told Reuters earlier this week that the US government had expressed its concerns to Basell's owners, BASF and Shell, about a potential sale to Iran.
Sources close to the situation have said BASF and Shell are nearing a deal to sell Basell for the 4.4 billion euros either to the Iranians or a group of Indian investors, but that several deadlines to complete the transaction have slipped by.
"We are still negotiating for buying Basell but it has not yet reached a conclusion, although NPC is in a better position than its competitor," Nematzadeh said.
Netherlands-based Basell is the world's top maker of polypropylene, used in a range of applications from auto steering wheels to packaging, and polyolefin products