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Ukraine leader sets condition for chemical selloff

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko said on Thursday, he does not oppose the privatization of a big chemical plant, provided the sale does not include an adjoining pipeline and export terminal.

On Tuesday, Yushchenko cancelled a government order to sell the Odessa Port plant, which has a starting price of almost $600 million, saying it was in the national interest to keep the pipeline in state hands. “Are we privatizing the pipelines or the factory? If it is the factory, I have no objections,” Yushchenko told journalists. “I am for privatization, but for the second time I am asking you -- do not privatize pipelines. This is not a conflict within the system of privatization, this is a state interest.”

Ukraine tried to privatize the Odessa Port plant last year, but was stopped by Yushchenko, who said that inclusion of a chemicals export terminal in the sale would enable the buyer to gain a monopoly, which could be used to raise export prices for other producers of chemicals. (Reuters)