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Repsol up on stake sale report, analysts doubtful

Shares in Repsol YPF rose after a press report said oil majors Total and Shell could buy a stake in the Spanish energy firm, but analysts cast doubt on the notion.

Spanish builder Sacyr Vallehermoso, owner of the stake, said in a regulatory filing on Thursday nothing had changed since it said earlier this month it may sell the 20% holding in Repsol.

Both Total and Shell declined to comment on the report.

Analysts said neither Total nor Shell would likely be interested in the Repsol stake as most big oil companies are aiming to increase their exposure upstream activities like exploration - a weak area for Repsol.

Analysts also pointed to the fact that voting rights in the 20% stake were limited to 10%.

“Most big companies want to control operations. The notion you would be putting money into a business where you're not going to dictate how that money is allocated across the business - I don't think it will appeal to them,” said Richard Griffith at Evolution Securities.

The report in financial daily Expansion, which did not cite its sources, said that Shell and Total were also looking at the 12.7% in Repsol held by Spain's largest unlisted bank, La Caixa.

Acquiring Sacyr's and La Caixa's stakes would oblige the buyers to launch a full takeover bid under Spanish law. The Spanish government has indicated it would look favorably on Total taking over Repsol, Expansion quoted sources close to talks on the issue as saying.

In that case, the French company would have to sell its 48.8% stake in Spanish energy company Cepsa, the paper said.

La Caixa declined to comment on the report. (Reuters)