Albania calls off Vetro offer for Albpetrol oil firm

Fri Feb 8, 2013 12:32pm EST
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* Albania throws out offer from Albanian-U.S. Vetro Energy

* Vetro failed to pay its 20 percent guarantee

* Negotiators to talk to China's Win Business

By Benet Koleka

TIRANA, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Albania has invalidated the winning 850 million euro ($1.1 billion) bid by Vetro Energy to buy its Albpetrol oil company after the Albanian-U.S. firm failed to come up with an initial payment, the energy minister said.

Minister Edmond Haxhinasto said on national television on Friday that the government had decided to "consider the first offer invalid" after Vetro failed to pay 170 million euros, equal to 20 percent of its bid.

Vetro had asked for a postponement but still failed to pay by a second deadline on Dec. 3.

The agreed price, equal to about 10 percent of Albania's gross domestic product, would have been a windfall that the Balkan state could have used to help reduce its budget deficit and public debt.

"This (government's) decision has authorized the group of negotiators to continue evaluating the other offers," Haxhinasto, who serves also as deputy prime minister, told Top Channel.   Continued...