LONDON (Dow Jones)
Bids from serious parties for the Petroplus Holdings AG's (PPHN.EB) Coryton refinery in England are expected to be submitted by April 2, the deadline set by PricewaterhouseCoopers, administrator of the Petroplus U.K. subsidiaries, a member of the European Parliament said Wednesday.
"[Prospective buyers] will then do due-diligence exercise over several weeks," Richard Howitt, the member of the European parliament for the East of England, said.
He declined to name the potential bidders, saying they are "serious people with serious interest."
A PwC spokeswoman declined to comment on the bidding process. The administrator said earlier this month that Coryton's book value was $1.3 billion.
Before Petroplus lost access to all its credit lines and then filed for insolvency in January, Coryton was supplying around 10% of the U.K.'s fuel market. BP PLC (BP.LN), Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) and Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) were among the refinery's main customers.
In February, Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc., KKR Asset Management LLC, and AtlasInvest signed a tolling agreement with PwC keeping Coryton running for an initial period of three months.
The agreement is financially sound despite tough market conditions and high crude prices, but the administrator can't rely on it being extended and needs to secure longer-term future of the refinery, Howitt said.
The PwC spokeswoman confirmed than over £600 million need to be raised and an agreement with creditors needs to be reached by May to keep the 220,000 barrel-a-day refinery running.
"The refinery is operating at quite high level, but closure is still one of three options on the table--along with sale and investment," Howitt said.
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