The Council of Ministers approved on 4 March the recommendation from the Executive Privatisation Commission (EPC) to sell the government’s remaining 37 per cent stake in Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC) to the Brunei Investment Agency at $4.00 per share.

The transaction will involve the sale of 27.75 million shares, 37 per cent of the company’s 75 million total. The value of the transaction will be $111 million.

‘Even though the Brunei offer is below the market price that JPMC was trading at, the government went with the negotiated track and talked directly to Brunei through HSBC. They [the government] didn’t believe the prices offered from the companies were competitive enough,’ says a source close to the project. A block trade on the ASE is expected within two weeks.’

A shortlist of international companies including the local Arab Potash Company (APC), several Indian firms and an unidentified Egyptian company was drawn up in September 2005, but the process was halted by the government in favour of direct negotiations with a strategic investor.

The Prime Minister’s office has also decided to sell 3 per cent of its stake in JPMC, controlled by Jordan Investment Corporation (Jordinvest), the government’s investment arm. Jordinvest will keep a 25.6 per cent stake in JPMC. Principal investors who hold the remaining 34.4 per cent stake in the company include the Kuwait Investment Authority and the Social Security Corporation.

HSBC was appointed by the EPC in July 2005 to advise on JPMC’s sale, following approval from the World Bank, which is financing the work. JPMC is the world’s sixth biggest phosphates producer (MEED 10:2:05).