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Sinopec eyes Sacyr stake in

Sinopec Corp, China`s largest refiner, is in talks to buy the 20 percent stake held by Spanish construction company Sacyr Vallehermoso in oil and gas firm Repsol YPF.

State-owned Sinopec is looking to buy the stake at 26.7 euros per share, a near 60 percent premium to its market price at present, the Shanghai-based National Business Daily reported yesterday.

Both parties are still in talks and no agreement has been reached yet, the newspaper said citing an unnamed Sinopec source.

A spokesman from Sinopec yesterday declined to make any further comments on the report.

Repsol YPF SA is an integrated Spanish oil and gas company with operations in over 30 countries. The bulk of its assets are located in Spain and Argentina, as a result of the 1999 takeover of Argentine energy firm YPF by the Spanish conglomerate Repsol SA.

It is one of the 10 largest private oil companies in the world and the largest private energy company in Latin America in terms of assets, the company said on its website.

Analysts said the move would boost Sinopec`s oil reserves. Repsol`s crude production is expected to increase in the next few years thanks to its interests in deep-sea oil fields off the coast of Brazil.

However, some analysts said the price for the deal is too high. "It is a near 60 percent premium to the Spanish company`s market price. I think a premium of 20 percent is reasonable," said Zhao Pengcheng, analyst, TX Investment Consulting Co.

Sacyr has been looking for a buyer for the Repsol stake to ease its debt burden since last September. However, any deal is far from straightforward given the high asking price.

Beijing-based Sinopec has accelerated its overseas expansion recently to meet the increasing domestic demand. Last December, the company received approval from the government for the takeover ofCanada`s Tanganyika Oil Co.

The company will buy Tanganyika at a price of C$31.5 ($25.5) per share. The total value of the deal is estimated at around 13 billion yuan.

Russian media reported earlier that Sinopec is offering to pay $130 million for Urals Energy, almost five times higher than the market value of the London-listed oil-producing company.

Urals Energy, registered in Cyprus, has key assets in Russia. The proved and supposed oil reserves of the company are estimated at 170 million tons.