A Spanish Billionaire Threatens Algeria Again!
Spanish billionaire Juan Miguel Villar Mir, owner of the OHL Group, came out with new threats against Algeria and Sonatrach, asking it to choose between an amicable settlement of the issue of Fertial Company in Annaba (eastern Algeria) and allowing the transfer of DZD 200 billion as profits, or resorting to international arbitration within 6 months.
A statement by the Spanish Group OHL, published last Thursday in Madrid, said that the group requires an amicable settlement of the issue of the stalemate facing the Fertial Company in Annaba, of which Sonatrach’s subsidiary Asmidal owns 34% and 17% to the imprisoned businessman Ali Haddad, or to go for international arbitration within six months.
According to the same statement, Juan Miguel Villar Mir denounced the freezing of Fertial’s accounts by the Algerian authorities for several months without clear justifications, a measure that, according to him, caused the inability to pay the salaries of workers and employees, nor to purchase the raw material and pay the dues of the suppliers, and according to him, the employees and the workers currently owe the company $12.3 million in wages residuals.
Spanish billionaire Juan Miguel Villar Mir accused the Algerian authorities of preventing him from transferring profits to the company estimated at $14.8 million (DZD 200 billion), in addition to refusing licenses to export Fertial products, whose activities are based on exports by 80%.
Spanish businessman Villar Mir claimed that Fertial company, due to the stalemate it is facing, incurred losses of about $100 million in its turnover, and damaged the relationship with the Norwegian GVM group, which is the company’s main customer, with imports of fertilizers reaching $80 million annually.
The statement of the Spanish group indicated that the Algerian authorities want to nationalize and indirectly transfer the ownership of Fertial. He also accused the Algerian authorities of violating the joint investment protection agreement between Algeria and Madrid.
In March 2019, OHL Group reached an agreement with Sonatrach to purchase the Spanish company’s share estimated at 34%, in addition to the share of imprisoned businessman Ali Haddad, 17%, and this is in favour of Sonatrach’s “Asmidal” company.
This agreement came on the heels of a deal that preceded it a few days before it was concluded between the Spanish “OHL” group and businessman Ali Haddad, which provided for Ali Haddad’s purchase of the share of the Spanish party estimated at 49%, to become the majority owner in the company specialized in the production of fertilizers (Ammonia) by 66%, given his share of 17%.
The businessman imprisoned for corruption cases, Ali Haddad, had acquired 17% of Fertial for 45 million euros in 2016.
The “OHL” group constituted a headache for Algeria years ago as the largest foreign company that fought cases of Arbitration against Algeria in the energy and public works sectors, as it had previously fought cases against Sonatrach in the case of the International Center for Conventions in Oran, demanding 260 million dollars in compensation, in addition to the second bypass motorway project for the capital Algiers (Boudouaou Zeralda) against the National Automobile Highway Agency.
This group also resorted to international arbitration against Algeria, demanding compensation estimated at 200 million euros (DZD 320 billion), for a project for the Northern Annaba railway, Ramadan Djamel (Skikda, Eastern Algeria), against the National Agency for Studies and Follow-up of Railway Investments known as ANESRIF