Chavez Cancer Won’t Hinder Harvest Deal Approval: CEO
Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (HNR) said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s battle with cancer won’t hurt the Houston-based company’s chances of getting approval for a deal that spurred a record share-price surge.
“I don’t think it will have an impact,” Chief Executive Officer James Edmiston said by telephone today, referring to the planned sale of its 32 percent stake in the Petrodelta joint venture. “Venezuela has been in the oil and gas business for over 100 years and they know what they are doing.”
Harvest agreed in June to sell the stake to PT Pertamina, Indonesia’s state-owned oil company, for $725 million subject to regulatory approval by Jan. 31. That deadline can be pushed back, Edmiston said. Chavez, who in his 14 years in power has closely controlled Venezuelan oil policy, is battling a respiratory infection following a fourth surgery. New elections may be called if he fails to start a new term on Jan. 10.
Petrodelta produces 39,000 barrels a day in the Orinoco heavy oil belt. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state-owned producer known as PDVSA, owns 60 percent of the venture.
Pertamina is still seeking Indonesian approval for the purchase, spokesman Ali Mundakir said by phone from Jakarta. PDVSA spokesman Alfredo Carquez and a Venezuelan Oil Ministry spokeswoman didn’t return calls or e-mails seeking comment.
Harvest shares soared 87 percent on June 23 when the deal was announced. They rose 11 percent to $10.25 at the close in New York today.
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