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Privatization of Romanian Chopper Maker Postponed Again

Autor: Adrian N. Ionescu 21 Apr 2007 - 00:00
Romania's Privatization Authority, or AVAS, rejected the only offer it had on the table from Eurocopter, which wanted to buy the chopper maker IAR Ghimbav Brasov.
The reasons cited for the rejection were "lack of compliance with requirements in the sale offer and presentation file."

When asked which exactly were the requirements Eurocopter did not comply with, we did not receive any answer beyond the one quoted above.
AVAS wanted to sell 64.88% of IAR Ghimbav, an AVAS press release said.

A week before these events, AVAS had changed the top leadership of IAR Ghimbav, replacing manager Ion Georgescu with Nicolai Banea. This was the third time in 15 years that AVAS made changes at the top of the IAR Ghimbav.

Banea had held the same position till 2002, when the then minister of the industry sacked him, after a failed attempt to sell IAR to the US company Bell Helicopters and for blocking the cooperation between Eurocopter France and IAR. "At the time of my replacement I was told a better cooperation between IAR and Eurocopter France was needed to make good on a very important contract signed with the United Arab Emirates," Banea said.

Eurocopter Romania was set up as a joint-venture in 2001, when Banea was at the helm. Eurocopter France held 51% of the company, with the rest going to IAR.

AVAS did not want to elaborate on the reasons for the reshuffling at the top Georgescu with Banea; Georgescu said the reasons "had nothing to do with my abilities to lead the company." "On the contrary, I received thanks for having run the company on a profit; however, I was not told the reasons for replacing me at the top," Georgescu told Mediafax wire service.

A month before this AVAS' decision, the Ministry of the Administration and the Interior canceled its buy of Eurocopter-made choppers.
In fact, Eurocopter was again the only one offering a deal to the ministry.
The Ministry said the Eurocopter offer was exceeding the budget the ministry had set aside for the deal.
This means that Augusta and Bell, the long-time competitors of Eurocopter, are back in the cards.

After current AVAS president Teodor Atanasiu said last year, when he was minister of defense, that Romania should pull out its troops in Iraq, the wrinkles in the relationship with the US might have been ironed-out by renewed prospects for Bell Helicopters in making business here.

Banea denied he was favoring Bell Helicopters in the privatization deal for IAR Ghimbav.

"Integrating IAR into EADS " which is the umbrella organization for Eurocopter too " is one target we believe in and strive for," Banea told Jurnalul national.

Translated by ANCA PADURARU
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