Dispute dates back to privatization deal in 2004; Agrofert considering appeal
Prague, April 12 (ČTK) — The Agrofert group of Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has lost a long-lasting dispute over 20 billion Kč with Polish firm PKN Orlen, weekly Euro writes in its latest issue to come out on Monday.
Agrofert was claiming damages for an alleged breach of contracts in the privatization of petrochemical holding Unipetrol.
The verdict is valid but Babiš’s company is thinking about turning to the Supreme Court.
Agrofert had filed four lawsuits against PKN Orlen in connection with Unipetrol’s privatization but succeeded only with one of them. In 2009, PKN Orlen was ordered to pay a contractual fine worth some 2.45 billion Kč.
The lawsuit over 20 billion Kč was over the highest amount of money and the High Court in Prague on Tuesday definitively rejected Agrofert’s claim.
Agrofert’s spokesman Karel Hanzelka told Euro that the company would wait for receiving the verdict in writing and then consider an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The then minority Social Democrats (ČSSD) government of now-President Miloš Zeman originally in 2001 offered the state share in Unipetrol to Agrofert. The price at 11.7 billion Kč seemed to be too high to Babiš and when the state did not want to cut the price, the deal did not materialize.
PKN Orlen in the end bought the stake from the Czech state for 14.7 billion Kč in 2004. It closely cooperated with Agrofert in the privatization and for its help reportedly promised to sell to Agrofert controlling stakes in Unipetrol’s subsidiaries Kacuk, Agrobohemie, Aliachem, Paramo and Chemopetrol for a favorable price.
However, PKN Orlen did not sell the stakes to Agrofert after the privatization. PKN Orlen said in connection with Tuesday’s court verdict that its course of action vis-à-vis Agrofert was “in harmony with the law and in the company’s best interest,” Euro writes.