Petronas sells Cairn stake to Vedanta: report

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Malaysia's Petronas sold Tuesday its near 15-percent stake in Cairn India, most of it to British resources giant Vedanta which aims to take control of the Indian energy explorer, a media report said.

The purchase by Vedanta is a sign that the London-listed company is keen to pursue its planned $9.6-billion takeover of Cairn India, a unit of Scotland's Cairn Energy, despite numerous delays, the CNBC-TV 18 channel reported.

None of the companies was immediately available for comment.

CNBC-TV 18, which did not cite sources, said London-listed Vedanta bought 11 percent of the 14.9-percent stake offloaded by state-owned oil and gas explorer Petronas, while 3.9 percent went to financial institutions.

CNBC said the share sale would have raised around $2 billion for Petronas.

Vedanta, controlled by Indian-born billionaire Anil Agarwal, last August said it wanted to buy up to 60 percent of Cairn India to add to its numerous India-focused assets.

But the sale has been beset by difficulties caused by differences between Cairn and its Indian state-owned partner Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) over the payment of royalties involving India's biggest onshore oilfields.

The Indian cabinet is split over whether the royalty row should be settled before or after the sale goes through and the matter was referred earlier this month to a panel of ministers for review.

The impasse comes at a bad time for India as foreign investment has slumped with investors worrying about a slew of corruption scandals that have shaken the government, including a suspected massive telecoms licensing fraud.

About 283.43 million shares of Cairn India were traded for about 331 apiece on the Bombay Stock Exchange early Tuesday, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

© 2011 AFP

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