Aramco sells its Motor Oil stake

Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil group and Motor Oil Holdings, owned by the Vardinoyiannis family, have parted ways after a decade. Listed refiner Motor Oil notified the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday that Aramco has sold its stake in the company, 41.9 percent, to Motor Oil Holdings. No financial details were disclosed. In midsummer, Turkey’s Cukurova Holdings had expressed interest in buying Aramco shares for a sum estimated between $400 and $500 million. However, Motor Oil Holdings had the right of first refusal and it exercised it yesterday. Motor Oil’s stock gained 3.42 percent yesterday to close at 18.14 euros. The stock has surged nearly 30 percent during the past month, both on expectations of the Aramco sale and higher sales generated by high oil prices. Its capitalization has reached over 2 billion euros. At present, ahead of the share transfer, Proventure Holdings Ltd, a joint venture between Aramco and Motor Oil, owns 51 percent of the shares; Aramco Overseas Company and Motor Oil Holdings own 16.4 percent each, and the remaining 16.2 percent is owned by other investors. Motor Oil’s profit declined in the second quarter because of a shutdown of a facility, which will open, refurbished, on October 1. Total 2005 profit is forecast at 103.1 million euros on sales of 2.62 billion.