Spanish bank La Caixa is no longer in talks with Russia's LUKOIL to sell all or part of its 12.7% stake in oil firm Repsol, it announced on Monday in a one paragraph stock exchange announcement.
"The La Caixa Group is not in any negotiation relating to the sale of the said stake", said the brief note. However a source from Sacyr, the debt-laden builder interested in the operation, is still talking to LUKOIL over a possible share sale. "The chances Sacyr has of getting a decent premium for its stake to Repsol's current share price are smaller since the size of the stake up for grabs is smaller," a Madrid-based equities analyst said. On November 21, La Caixa said it was in talks with LUKOIL about its Repsol stake and that it could sell as part of a deal with Sacyr, which is looking for a buyer for its own 20% share. La Caixa's announcement denting LUKOIL's acquisition options confirms a story published in the Madrid newspaper El Pais on Saturday. El Pais quoted a source at La Caixa as saying it was open to alternative offers once a deal had been reached on Sacyr's own stake sale or the sale had been abandoned completely. The main reason for La Caixa deciding against teaming up with Sacyr to sell to Lukoil is to avoid the appearance of a "concerted" deal which may not be in the interests of minority shareholders, the newspaper added, without citing a source. Spanish press sources had advanced that the sale to Lukoil could be completed shortly at a Repsol price per share in excess of 22 Euros, although the political implications were delaying the process." "The defence of minorities' interests may constitute an additional hurdle, although formally no change in control would be at question," the analysts said. Sacyr holds a 20% stake in Repsol; La Caxia, 14.123%; Axa, 4% and Pemex, 3%. According to last November's planned operation Lukoil would have purchased Sancyr's 20% and 9.9% from La Caixa, which would have forced the Russian corporation to make a full take over offer. But this motivated the protest from the small shareholders. However Repsol CEO Antonio Brufau said the company would only be sold with a full take over position bid. Furthermore Spain's main opposition party is contrary to the operation and the government of Rodriguez Zapatero would like the corporation to continue under Spanish control.