Saudi Aramco unit to sell stake in Philippine oil refiner, retailer Petron

March 15, 2008 - 0:0

Petron Corp., the largest Philippine oil company by assets, said Friday that major shareholder Aramco Overseas Co. plans to sell its 40 percent stake to SEA Refinery Holdings, a company owned by Ashmore Group Plc.

Petron said is a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange the Ashmore unit has offered $550 million (353 million euro) for the 3.75 billion Petron shares held by Aramco Overseas, a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Officials from Aramco and Ashmore weren’t immediately reachable for comment.
Ashmore is a global asset management company listed on the London Stock Exchange that manages $36.5 billion (23.4 billion euro) in assets.
State-owned Philippine National Oil Co. – Petron’s other major shareholder with a 40 percent stake -- said separately it will evaluate the terms of Ashmore’s proposal and decide whether to exercise its right of first offer to purchase the shares.
“We have received a notice from Aramco Overseas regarding the proposed sale of its shares in Petron, and will carefully evaluate this filing with the diligence and rigor necessary and appropriate to determine the best course of action,” said PNOC President and Chief Executive Antonio Cailao.
In 1994, the government privatized Petron, with PNOC selling a 40 percent stake to Aramco Overseas for US$535 million. PNOC held onto another 40 percent and sold 20 percent to the public.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said in a statement that Ashmore’s decision to purchase Aramco’s Petron shares is “a vote of confidence in Petron and the positive environment that has been created for foreign investment in our country.”
She said Ashmore “knows the Philippines well through its investment in our international financing and in an important utility, Maynilad Water.”
At the exchange rate of 41.45 pesos to the U.S. dollar, Ashmore’s offer values Petron at 6.08 pesos per share, compared to Thursday’s close of 6.10 pesos. Its shares fell 1.7 percent Friday to 6 pesos.
“Petron’s business remains strong and I am confident that our momentum will continue,” said Petron Chairman and Chief Executive Nicasio Alcantara. The company is looking forward “to continuing our relationship commercially under Saudi Aramco’s commitment to maintain crude oil supply,” he said.
Petron operates a 180,000 barrel a day refinery and supplies nearly 40 percent of the country's oil requirements, according to its statement. It also has more than 1,250 service stations, the largest network in the Philippines.
(Source: International Herald Tribune)