Philippine Government considers financial adviser for sale of Petron stake

In a bid to arrive at a decision, the Philippine government is mulling the services of an independent financial adviser to undertake share valuation. The services are being sought to help it decide the best move with regard to the offer of Ashmore Group's SEA Refinery Holdings to buy Aramco Overseas Co.'s 40% stake in Petron Corp. The Government wishes to arrive at a reasonable price before deciding to exercise its preemptive right. The government, however, will lay emphasis on privatization of Philippine National Oil Co., which owns 40% of Petron and has a right of first refusal in the proposed transaction between Aramco and Ashmore. The government still has 60 days, starting March 13, to decide whether or not to exercise its right of first refusal. Currently, Petron is in the process of evaluating the second phase of its refinery master plan, which should entail an additional investment of US$1.5 billion. The amount would finance the establishment of a second Petro Fluidized Catalytic Cracker (PetroFCC) unit, which should come on stream by 2014, among other projects that would increase Petron's conversion capacity and petrochemical feedstock production.
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