Surging Motor Oil stays silent on rumor of buying out Aramco stake

Athens-listed Motor Oil, Greece’s second-largest oil refiner, yesterday refused to be drawn into discussing rumors that it plans to buy out the 41.9 percent stake in the company directly and indirectly owned by Aramco. «Ask Aramco itself,» officials responded to a question during a company presentation. The rumors first surfaced in the Turkish media last month. The Vardinoyiannis family, which controls a majority stake in Motor Oil, has the right of first refusal in case Aramco decides to sell. Motor Oil’s stock yesterday continued its recent meteoric rise, climbing 6.25 percent to 17.0 euros. Separately, securities firm Egnatia Finance raised its target price for Motor Oil to 17.3 euros from 13.50 euros previously and upgraded its recommendation from «hold» to «accumulate.» It said the valuation of the company largely depends on refining margins which, despite their volatility, are projected to remain high for a long period due to the imbalance between supply and demand. Net profit and sales for 2005 are projected at 103.1 million and 2.62 billion euros respectively. Motor Oil’s technologically advanced new refining unit near Corinth is scheduled to begin operating Oct. 1.