Spain's opposition criticises Repsol sale to Lukoil
Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy calls Russian energy group Lukoil’s move to buy stake in Spanish energy giant Repsol immoral and unjust.24 November 2008
MADRID – Spain's conservative opposition leader Saturday hit out at the possible sale of a stake in oil major Repsol to Russian energy group Lukoil, saying he would do "everything possible" to prevent it.
"Nobody in Europe has sold its energy supply and put it in the hands of a Russian company," Mariano Rajoy told a political meeting.
He said such a sale would be "immoral and unjust" and he would do "everything possible to prevent it happening."
He was backed by Socialist former prime minister Felipe Gonzalez, who also opposed any deal.
Spanish media said Lukoil could acquire 29.9 percent of Repsol for EUR 27 to EUR 28 per share, or around EUR 10 billion, making it the largest shareholder in Spain's largest oil firm.
Under Spanish takeover law, a shareholder must launch an offer for the whole company once it passes the 30 percent threshold.
Spanish newspapers across the political spectrum have come out against the private Russian oil giant buying a stake in Repsol.
But Spain's Socialist government has sought to remain neutral.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Thursday the government "must be respectful of the interests of the company and possible negotiations on the integration of other partners."
Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teesa de la Vega reiterated Friday that the government preferred Repsol to remain in Spanish hands but would respect the independence and public-listed status of both Lukoil and Repsol.
Lukoil is in talks to buy the 20 percent stake in Repsol that heavily-indebted Spanish construction group Sacyr Vallehermoso is interested in selling.
Leading Spanish bank La Caixa said Friday it was also negotiating with Lukoil over the sale of part of its 14.2 percent stake Repsol.
Sacyr is currently the main shareholder in Repsol, the smallest of the European oil 'majors', followed by La Caixa.
[AFP / Expatica]