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Libya eyes 10% stake in ENI

Libya would be interested in buying up to 10% of Italian oil giant ENI, one of a number of investments it is considering in Italy, the North African country’s ambassador to Italy was reported as saying.  

The investment, which at ENI’s closing price of €15.39 on Friday would entail spending more than €6 billion, would make Libya ENI’s second-biggest shareholder after the Italian state, which has a 20.3% stake.

In comments about other potential investments published in Italian newspapers on Sunday, Hafed Gaddur said he was not interested in the telecommunications sector. “We have in mind five to six operations, among which I exclude telecommunications,” he was quoted as saying in business daily Il Sole 24 Ore. Other newspapers had him speaking of four to five operations. Although he did not elaborate, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Reuters on Friday that Libya was interested in the transport, tourism and infrastructure sectors.

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Gaddur spoke to newspapers after Italy’s government said on Saturday that Libya was interested in buying a stake in ENI. Just as sovereign funds from developing countries have recently made investments in US and European companies, Libya has emerged as a leading source of capital for Italian companies and an important energy partner. It recently acquired nearly 5% of Italian bank UniCredit. Gaddur said the accord signed by Libya and Italy last August had made it easier for Libya to invest in Italian companies without provoking a hostile reaction.

On August 30, the countries signed an accord under which Italy would pay compensation for misdeeds during its colonial rule of Libya. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi hailed the accord as opening a new era of cooperation. “It allows for something that in different times would have been absolutely impossible, such as a foreign state that enters with a stake of 5 to 10% in your national oil company, which is what we would want to do,” he was quoted by La Repubblica as saying. (Reuters)