Spain’s Criteria Reportedly Considering 4% Sale of Gas Natural

Spain’s Criteria Reportedly Considering 4% Sale of Gas Natural

Spain’s Criteria, the parent company of lender Caixabank, is considering the sale of 4 percent of energy firm Gas Natural, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Criteria is Gas Natural’s main shareholder, holding 34.4 percent of its share capital. It would use the proceeds of any sale to partly finance the purchase of a stake in oil major Repsol owned by its Caixabank unit, the source said.

The double move would enable Caixabank to boost its capital and finances while at the same time allowing Criteria to maintain a grip on Gas Natural.

The Gas Natural sale would raise around 900 million euros ($959 million) at Gas Natural’s current market value. The sale of other industrial stakes was also possible, the source said.

“Criteria can finance the Repsol acquisition through a bond or by selling part of its industrial stakes, including 4 percent of Gas Natural,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Criteria said earlier on Tuesday that it was issuing 1 billion euros of a new 7-year bond.

Criteria and Gas Natural declined to comment.

Caixabank currently owns 11.9 percent of Repsol but would have to retain a 2.5 percent stake after it issued debt convertible into the oil company’s shares for that amount in 2013. The remaining 9.4 percent stake has a market value of 2.4 billion euros ($2.5 billion).

Criteria said in the past it was open to selling part of its stake in Gas Natural but always within the limits or remaining the first shareholder and keeping its control over the company.

Gas Natural’s second-biggest shareholder is Repsol, with a 30 percent stake.

Source: Reuters


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