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Shell mulls sale of stake in Czech refiner – paper

Oil group Royal Dutch Shell is mulling a sale of its 16.3% stake in Czech refiner Ceska Rafinerska, majority-owned by refiner Unipetrol, a Czech newspaper reported on Friday.

Citing unnamed market sources, daily Hospodarske Noviny said Unipetrol, Italy’s Agip and Russia’s LUKoil are among potential bidders for the stake which analysts estimate to be worth between €200 million ($310.6 million) and 250 million. “We are consistent in saying that should Shell want to sell its stake in Ceska Rafinerska, we would be interested,” said Radek Nemecek, head of investor relations for Unipetrol. Raising its stake in the refiner is seen by analysts as key for Unipetrol, whose earnings have been squeezed by pressured petrochemical margins amid rising oil prices.

Unipetrol is controlled by Polish refiner PKN Orlen. Citing the Czech industry and trade minister, the daily wrote the government does not favor an entry of Russian investors into the strategic oil industry and could push a state-owned company to buy the stake if necessary. Shell did not confirm it intends to sell its stake in the Czech firm, the daily said. (Reuters)