Uncertainty over status of Israeli stake in Egyptian oil refinery

Published May 31st, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A cloud of uncertainty has surrounded the status of the Israeli investment in Egypt’s $1.2 billion Middle East Oil Refinery (Midor), following a report on May 29 by Associated Press that Yossi Maiman of the Israel-based Merhav company had sold his 14 percent share in the plant.  


Yossi Maiman yesterday denied Associated Press reports from Egypt that his Merhav company, the biggest Israeli investor in Egypt, has sold its 14-percent stake in the $1.2 billion plant to the National Bank of Egypt, giving it 38 percent of the stock and making it Midor’s largest shareholder after the state-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. 


The AP report came on the heels of a statement made by the Egyptian Economy and Trade Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who told the Egyptian parliament that Egypt wants the Israeli share in Midor to be sold. The plant was established when the political relationship with Israel was better, Boutros-Ghali explained. 


But quoted by the Israeli Ha’aretz daily, Maiman denied that he was being pressured to sell his share in the refinery, adding that relations with Merhav’s Egyptian partners are correct on the business level and warm on the personal level. 


But a sale of Merhav’s stake in Midor is not out of the question. On Monday, Nimrod Novik, Merhav's vice president, had stated that the sale to a serious buyer was possible if a good offer is received. 


In any case, Merhav evidently is not planning to end its involvement in the Egyptian energy sector. Ha’aretz reported on speculation that Maiman is eager to sell his shares in Midor in order to invest in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas (EMG) project, which will transport gas from Egypt to Turkey via Israel.– (MENA Report). 


© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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