By SEAN CARNEY
PRAGUE -- A unit of Royal Dutch Shell is in talks with
shareholders and the Czech government over the potential sale
of its 16% stake in the largest refinery in the Czech Republic, a
local news website reported Tuesday, citing the Czech industry
"We received an offer from Shell and it's led to
negotiations," Industry Minister Martin Kuba said, according to
news website Ceska Pozice.
Mr. Kuba, his press office and representatives from Shell
weren't immediately available to comment on the report.
A state acquisition of Shell's stake in Ceska Rafinerska
would be logical only "if it fell into the structure of a
future [state-run] petro holding company, on which we are now
finishing conceptual work," Mr. Kuba was quoted as saying.
The minister is also reported to have said that Shell
offered its stake to the two other shareholders in the refinery, which have an option to
purchase the stake before it's offered to third parties.
Italy's Eni has a 32.4% stake, having doubled its
holdings in the refiner in 2007, while Unipetrol, the Czech
unit of Polish PKN Orlen, holds a 51% share in the refiner.
PKN and Unipetrol officials said they won't comment, but in
the past they have repeatedly said they would like to increase
their stake in the refiner.
ENI representatives declined to comment.
Dow Jones Newswires