Unipetrol Seeks Buyer For Refining Unit

Unipetrol said that it will search for a buyer for its majority stake in the refiner Ceska Rafinerska after three international oil companies that own minority stakes declined to raise their holdings in an option that expires today.

The Royal Dutch Shell Group, Agip Petroli International and Conoco, which hold a combined forty nine percent stake in Rafinerska, said that they will not exercise an option to buy the rest of the Czech fuels producer triggered by the government's agreement to sell Unipetrol AS to chemical company Agrofert AS for 361 million euros ($339 million).

Selling the Rafinerska stake, which is valued at around $246 million according to the local press, is crucial for Agrofert to complete its takeover of the oil holding company. Conoco said it still wants to raise its stake in Rafinerska through individual talks with Agrofert, which analysts have said lacks the cash to complete the transaction.

Agrofert “has to sell (Rafinerska) to raise cash for the Unipetrol purchase because nobody would give them” a long-term loan for the entire amount, said Jan Slaby, an analyst at Wood & Co. in Prague.

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