By Emil Danielyan
A Ukrainian company that was earlier declared the new owner of Armenia’s troubled chemical giant Nairit has not yet made a final decision on its takeover, officials admitted on Monday.
The Armenian government announced in October that the Inter-Contact chemical firm has agreed to pay $12 million for a controlling stake in Nairit-1, one of the two state-run enterprises that have emerged from the recent restructuring of the sprawling factory in south Yerevan. The government said Inter-Contact will also invest $22 million in Nairit-1, which retains most of Nairit’s manufacturing capacities, over the next six years.
State television reported last week that the deal will be sealed during Inter-Contact chairman Aleksandr Yedin’s visit to Armenia which started on Monday.
But a spokeswoman for the Armenian ministry of trade and industry, Anahit Khechoyan, told RFE/RL that no agreements are likely to be signed during the two-day trip as the Ukrainians are still weighing up the takeover. She said a group of experts accompanying Yedin will conduct a detailed analysis of Nairit and submit conclusions regarding its attractiveness in the coming weeks.
Yedin, who is also a member of the Ukrainian parliament, went straight into talks with Armenian Trade and Industry Minister Karen Chshmaritian on his arrival in Yerevan. He is scheduled to meet with President Robert Kocharian on Tuesday.
Inter-Contact is a key buyer of Nairit’s main product, synthetic rubber. Its purchase of Nairit-1 could breathe a new life into the company starved of investments and export markets. The flagship of Armenia’s chemical industry has been hit hard by the collapse of the Soviet Union, with thousands of jobs slashed over the past decade. Nairit’s debts to the state have reached a staggering $100 million.