• Cosmo among at least seven companies to express interest
  • Petrobras bought Nansei Sekiyu stake for 5.5 billion yen

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.’s sale of its Japanese unit on the tropical island of Okinawa is drawing interest from several companies, including JX Holdings Inc. and TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

At least seven companies, including Japanese refiner Cosmo Energy Holdings, have indicated an interest in participating in the first round of the auction for Nansei Sekiyu K.K., said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Petroleo Brasileiro is the Brazilian state-run oil company better known as Petrobras.

Petrobras, which is at the center of a corruption scandal, is joining Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in exiting Japan, where demand for oil products is forecast to fall 8.4 percent in the next five years.

The Brazilian oil giant bought an 87.5 percent stake in the Japanese company from TonenGeneral for 5.5 billion yen ($52 million) in April 2008, followed by a purchase of the remaining 12.5 percent stake from Sumitomo Corp. in 2010. Petrobras has been considering the sale of a stake in its Japanese business since at least 2011.

The Brazilian company shut a 100,000 barrel-a-day refinery on Okinawa operated by Nansei Sekiyu last year as part of its plan to withdraw from Japan.

Spokesmen for TonenGeneral and JX declined to comment. A Cosmo spokesman wasn’t immediately able to comment. Nansei Sekiyu didn’t return a call and e-mail seeking comment.

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