Gazprom eyes takeover of Slovenia's fuel retailer

By AFP

July 15, 2010 Updated Jun 6, 2009 at 7:02 AM CDT

Russian gas giant Gazprom may be interested in acquiring Slovenia's largest fuel retailer Petrol, Slovenian daily Delo reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

"It seems that Petrol has become an interesting takeover target for Gazprom amid the global crisis in the capital market and the drop in share prices," Delo reported on its frontpage.

The newspaper added that a takeover could be possible since one of the largest shareholders, Istrabenz, is currently seeking a buyer for its 25 percent stake in Petrol.

The Slovenian state through its investment funds is the largest shareholder in Petrol with a 28-percent stake while some 39,000 smaller stakeholders control most of the remaining 47 percent of shares.

Petrol, which currently owns over 400 petrol stations in Slovenia and other former Yugoslav states, is one of Slovenia's largest listed companies with a market capitalisation of 570 million euros (798 million dollars).

Delo added that a takeover of Petrol by Gazprom could run simultaneously with the conclusion of a deal between Moscow and Ljubljana for the construction through Slovenia of the massive South Stream gas pipeline to Europe.

Slovenia's Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik announced last month the government could sign a deal with Gazprom on the South Stream pipeline later this month.

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