Shell Offered to Sell Minority Stake in Refiner to Czechs

Royal Dutch Shell Plc offered to sell the Czech government its minority stake in Ceska Rafinerska AS, Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba said.

“We got an offer earlier this year,” Kuba said today at a conference in Prague. “We’ll need to discuss it with other economic ministries.”

Ceska Rafinerska, controlled by Unipetrol AS, operates two refineries. While Unipetrol holds a 51 percent stake in the refiner, Eni SpA of Italy owns 32.5 percent and Shell the rest. Czech government officials have said in the past they would be keen to snap up minority stakes in the country’s refineries should they come up for sale.

The government’s potential acquisition of Shell’s 16.5 percent stake would make sense as part of a larger takeover strategy of the country’s oil industry, the minister said. Part of that would include combining state-controlled pipeline operator Mero with Cepro, which controls the freight, storage and sale of oil products and operates the Czech national oil reserves.

“The acquisition of the Ceska Rafinerska stake in itself is not strategically important,” Kuba said. “It would work only as a part of a larger return of the state into the petrochemical industry.”

Shell declined to comment on the possible sale of the stake.

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