Templeton Asset Management Sells PetroChina Shares Amid Probes

Templeton Asset Management Ltd. sold about HK$1.64 billion ($211.5 million) of PetroChina Co. stock after the energy company said four of its managers and a former chairman were being investigated for corruption.

Templeton cut its stake to 4.42 percent from 5.34 percent after it sold 193,998,000 shares at an average price of HK$8.428 on Aug. 28, according to a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

“Investors are avoiding risks because this company had more problems recently, especially with the higher management,” said Zhang Gang, a strategist at Central China Securities Holdings Co. in Shanghai. “This poses a lot of uncertainties. Looking forward, the stock price should stabilize unless new issues arise.”

Mae Loon, a spokeswoman for Templeton, declined to comment on the share sale.

The sale comes as PetroChina’s chief geologist, the chairman of its Kunlun Energy unit and the heads of its two largest oilfields were removed from their positions last week as the probe into “serious disciplinary violations” began. Jiang Jiemin, former chairman of the company and head of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, was also removed from his job, Xinhua News Agency reported today.

PetroChina rose 0.7 percent to HK$8.60 at 11:58 a.m. in Hong Kong. The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 1.1 percent.

In a statement dated yesterday and posted on its website, SASAC’s party committee said it “firmly supports” the probe into Jiang. SASAC will“unswervingly carry out anti-corruption work,” the committee said in the statement after meeting with officials from the party’s Organization Department on the afternoon of Sept. 1. “It will continue to promote the reform and adjustment of central enterprises.”

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