Ashmore to start tender offer for Petron shares June 16

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2008 03:30 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2008 11:30 PM


London-listed Ashmore Group's unit, SEA Refinery Holdings BV, told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday it would conduct a tender offer to acquire the remaining 20-percent stake held by minority shareholders in Petron Corp. from June 16 until July 14.

"The bidder reserves the right to extend the tender offer with the approval of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission)," SEA Refinery Holdings BV said.

The Ashmore Group will purchase 40 percent of Petron from Saudi's Aramco Overseas Company BV for $550 million. It also intends to buy the shares of small investors at a price of P6.531 each.

"This is equivalent to the price paid for the private sale shares of $0.147 per share and based on the Philippine Dealing System closing exchange rate on June 11, 2008 of $1.00 to P44.43," it said.

Saudi Aramco supplies crude oil to Petron, which in turn accounts for about 40 percent of the country's total fuel requirements.

The board of the state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. approved last May 12 the sale of 40 percent of Saudi Aramco's stake in Petron Corp. to the Ashmore Group of the United Kingdom for $550 million.
 
The PNOC's financial advisers to the deal said not approving the sale would have reverse the Philippine government's policy of privatization. It would also cost taxpayers $825 million if the government makes a subsequent tender offer for the 40% stake, they added.

They said the government has many other priorities for its budget such as food security, and that available funds would be better spent addressing these problems.

The actual sale of Saudi Aramco's 40% stake to Ashmore will be done through the Philippine Stock Exchange sometime in July.

Ashmore, through unit SEA Refinery Holdings, had offered to buy Saudi Aramco's 3.75 billion shares in Petron, currently held under the name of unit Aramco Overseas Co., for $550 million.

State-run PNOC owns 40 percent of Petron, one of the only two oil refiners in the Philippines.

Under an agreement between PNOC and Aramco signed in 1994, Aramco should first offer its 40 percent stake in Petron to PNOC in case it decides to exit the company before it entertains offers from other buyers.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said buying out its Saudi partner would have contradicted Manila's "policy of privatising government stakes in corporations and letting the private sector run commercial enterprises as effectively and efficiently as possible."

Saudi Aramco supplies the crude oil requirement of Petron, which in turn accounts for about 40 percent of the Philippines' total fuel requirements.  - With Agence France Presse