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December 7, 2008

Philippines confirms Ashmore’s purchase of Petron stake
Philippine Finance Secretary Margarito Teves confirmed on Saturday that a unit of UK'S Ashmore Group has agreed to buy the government's 40 percent stake in oil refiner Petron Corp for 25.7 billion pesos ($524 million), reported Reuters.

Asked if British investment manager Ashmore accepted the government offer to sell its stake in the country's largest oil refiner at 6.85 pesos a share, Teves told Reuters in a text message: "Yes."

A source told Reuters earlier on Saturday Ashmore has agreed to the deal despite a steep 57 percent premium to the oil firm's closing price of 4.35 pesos on Friday.

The deal would raise the Ashmore group's holdings in Petron to about 90 percent.

Earlier this year, Ashmore unit SEA Refinery Holdings BV bought a 40 percent stake in Petron from Saudi Aramco for $550 million, or 6.531 pesos per share, below the government's sale price.

Ashmore's unit later increased its Petron stake to slightly more than 50 percent after buying shares from minority shareholders via a tender offer at the same share price as its deal with Saudi Aramco.

The sale would boost the Philippine government's coffers and help keep its budget deficit within a goal of 75 billion pesos this year despite increased spending to cushion the economy from the impact of the global financial crisis.

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