By Atom Markarian
Industry Minister Karen Chshmaritian accused on Wednesday a British-based firm, Ransat Group, of not honoring its contractual obligation to revitalize Armenia’s largest chemical factory which has stood idle since November.
He indicated that the Armenian government may soon sever a management contract for the Nairit giant which it signed with Ransat a year ago.
“There is no management at Nairit. I am very unhappy and have conveyed my unhappiness to them in two or three letters which remain unanswered,” Chshmaritian told a news conference. “We were patient, thinking that they may be having trouble getting credit resources in order to fulfill their obligations.”
Production operations at Nairit ground to a halt last November after Armenia’s recently privatized power distributor cut off electricity supplies to the sprawling Yerevan factory, demanding that it repay $5 million in outstanding debts.
Nairit’s chief executive in Armenia, Anil Kumar, argued at the time that under the terms of the management contract with the government Ransat Group was to start repaying the factory’s debts from May 2003. Kumar claimed that some governing circles and businessmen connected with them are bent on squeezing his company out of the country.
But the Industry Ministry says the new owner of the Armenian Electricity Network, also registered in Britain, has the legitimate right to collect its bills. According to Chshmaritian, Ransat is simply trying to rationalize its failure to fulfill its investment commitments.
The London-based company pledged to invest $25 million in Nairit within the next five years when it took over the factory last May. Shortly afterwards it purchased a 50 percent stake in a large chemical complex in Vanadzor, Armenia’s third largest city. The Vanadzor factory is also not operating at the moment.