Saudi oil firm selling stake in Philippines’ refining company

March 14th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by admin  

Manila, March 14 (DPA) Saudi Arabia’s leading oil producer Aramco is selling its 40 percent stake in Petron Corp, the largest oil refiner in the Philippines, to London-based Ashmore investment group, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Friday. Arroyo said the decision of Aramco Overseas Corp (AOC) to sell its stake in Petron Corp was due to a change in the oil firm’s “business focus”.

Petron disclosed that Ashmore offered to buy Saudi Aramco’s shares for $550 million.

“While we appreciate that AOC’s business focus has changed since it made its investment in Petron 14 years ago, we are pleased that it will maintain its ties with the Philippines through the commitment by its parent company, Saudi Aramco,” Arroyo said in a statement.

“The decision by Ashmore to purchase the shares of Petron Corp … is both a validation of the very successful privatisation of an important Philippine company and a vote of confidence in Petron,” she added.

Petron was a state-owned company until 1994 when Aramco and the Philippine government entered into an agreement to each own 40 percent of the firm as part of a privatisation programme. The other 20 percent was sold to the public.

Arroyo said the transfer of shares from AOC to Ashmore would go through a review to be conducted by the state-owned Philippine National Oil Corp, which oversees the government’s share in Petron.

Petron shares dipped to 6.00 pesos (0.14 dollars) per share in Friday’s trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange following the announcement of the deal, from Thursday’s close of 6.10 pesos.

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