CEFC, the company that failed to take over KazMunayGas’ Rompetrol

China Energy Company is a private conglomerate with a turnover of over $ 42 billion and is among the top 10 private companies in China. The company’s main businesses are related to oil, gas and financial services, but it also has in its portfolio a wide range of other sectors like transport infrastructure, forestry, asset management, hotel management, warehousing services, real estate development and logistics services.

Most of the company is owned by Shanghai Energy Fund Investment Ltd (SEFI), which is registered under Ye Jianming, the chairman of CEFC. The company had close business with the People’s Liberation Army, and the company’s president had close ties to members of the Communist Party. Czech President Miloš Zeman himself has appointed CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming as his economic adviser.

But, as of 2018, the Chinese giant has started to have big problems. Ye’s relations with high Chinese officials have generated many acts of corruption. This angered President Xi Jinping, who ordered China Development Bank to withdraw its credit lines for CEFC. This was followed by Ye’s arrest and investigation for involvement in bribery in Chad and Uganda where CEFC was engaged in the oil business. And so, a game of dominoes has been triggered resulting in the collapse of several important businesses of the Chinese company and the takeover of parts of the company by the Chinese state.

Before the scandal broke, China Energy Company also tried to take over the majority stake in KMG International, formerly Rompetrol, from KazMunayGas, Kazakhstan’s national oil and gas company.

Rompetrol’s Navodari refinery. Source: facebook/Rompetrol

After several years of negotiations, when the transaction was close to completion, in 2018, CEFC China Energy had to pay a $ 50 million guarantee to maintain the on-going transaction. But the Chinese company could not pay before the deadline due to Ye’s problems and the business collapsed.

The largest investments in Europe were made by CEFC in the Czech Republic, whose government the company was close to. In 2015, the company acquired multiple assets in the Czech Republic – 5% in J&T Finance, a majority stake in the Pivovary Lobkowicz Group brewery, a 10% stake in Travel Service, 60% in SK Slavia Prague football club and real estate assets in Prague – the building of the former Živnostenská Banka on Na příkopě Street and Le Palais Art Hotel in Prague. CEFC also bought a package of 50 to 90% from the Invia Online Travel Agency.
After CEFC China Energy invested in the Czech Empresa Media company, the owner of the nationwide television channel TV Barrandov and Týden news magazine, changed its critical tone towards China, being replaced only by positive news.

In addition to other major CEFC deals, a $ 9.1 billion acquisition of a stake in the Rosneft Russian energy giant failed.


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