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    OMV Shifts Focus with Asset Sales, Purchases


The company wants to shed its interest in an Austrian grid operator, divest a German fuel station chain and increase its stake in a major petrochemical producer.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Premium, Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Investments, News By Country, Austria

OMV Shifts Focus with Asset Sales, Purchases

Austria's OMV announced on March 12 it planned to sell its remaining shares in gas pipeline operator Gas Connect Austria to the country's biggest power company Verbund and divest its filling station business in Germany. It also reported striking a deal to increase its stake in Borealis, one of Europe's biggest petrochemical producers.

The oil and gas company said it had opened negotiations on a exclusive basis for the sale of its 51% interest in Gas Connect, which operates a 900-km pipeline grid in Austria. Gas Connect is responsible for the marketing and provision of transport capacity at border points, as well as capacity for meeting domestic demand.

"With this potential sale, OMV intends to exit the regulated gas transport business in line with its strategy and engage in proactive portfolio management to secure continued profitable growth," the company explained. "At the same time, OMV will remain active in international gas logistics, in the gas storage business, and in the gas supply and trading business."

OMV did not say how much it expected its stake to fetch. The remaining 49% of Gas Connect is owned by Gasinfrastruktur, a 60:40 joint venture between Munich-based financial group Allianz and Italy's Snam.

The Austrian firm announced separately it had initiated the process for selling its chain of 287 filling stations in southern Germany, as part of its focus on portfolio management. It also signed an agreement on March 12 with Abu Dhabi-based investment company Mubadala to raise its stake in Vienna-based Borealis from 36% to 75%. Mubadala will retain the remaining 25%.

Borealis supplies polyolefins base chemicals and fertilisers, using naphtha, butane, propane and ethane derived from oil and gas as its feedstock. OMV said the deal would establish it as a leading producer of these products, demand for which is growing rapidly as a result of strong economic growth and rising living standards in emerging countries.