ARGENTINA SETS DATE TO SELL PETROCHEMICAL FIRM

ARGENTINA SETS DATE TO SELL PETROCHEMICAL FIRM

Argentina has set July 15 as the deadline by which it wants to sell its largest state-owned petrochemical company to overseas or local private investors, said Defense Ministry officials.

The proposed sale of Petroquimica General Mosconi would end the state's 50-year dominant role in production of aromatics - benezene, toluene and xylene - basic petrochemical building blocks.Mosconi, which claims to be profitable, is owned 50 percent each by the Defense Ministry and Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales, the state oil company.

Sources close to the ministry said two leading multinational oil companies - one American and the other European - are interested in purchasing Mosconi.

Both the government and private oilmen have estimated the value of Mosconi at US$70 million to US$100 million. The company produces 300,000 metric tons per year of aromatics and 100,000 metric tons of other petrochemicals including methanol, oxo-alcohols and methyl-tertiary-butyl- ether, at a complex 35 miles south of here.

The sale also would represent a major step toward removal of YPF from the petrochemical sector. YPF officials said the company wants to leave the petrochemical business before the end of this year so it can focus its resources to explore, recover and process oil.