Unipetrol Agrees to Buy Shell’s 16.3% Stake in Ceska Rafinerska

Unipetrol AS, the largest Czech oil company, agreed to buy the 16.3 percent of Ceska Rafinerska AS held by Royal Dutch Shell Plc as part of a plan to curb costs.

Unipetrol will pay Shell $27.2 million to raise its stake to 67.6 percent, the Prague-based company said in a statement.

Ceska Rafinerska runs refineries in Kralupy and Litvinov with a combined capacity of 177,000 barrels a day, Shell said in a separate statement. The deal will be closed early next year.

“The transaction further confirms our main strategic objective to ensure Unipetrol’s long-term growth,” Chief Executive Officer Marek Switajewski said in the statement. “It brings Unipetrol the qualified majority of votes in Ceska Rafinerska with the 67.5 percent threshold, allowing significant improvement in the company’s operational management and bringing operational cost savings.”

Shell first offered to sell its stake to the government, then-Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Kuba said April 16. The sale is part of Shell’s wider strategy of asset disposals including the recent offloading of U.K. and German refineries.

Eni SpA of Italy owns the remaining stake in the refiner. Unipetrol is controlled by Polish oil company PKN Orlen SA.