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January 6, 2009

Philippines: San Miguel takes option to buy 50% of Petron
San Miguel Corp, Southeast Asia's biggest food and drinks group, said on Monday it had an option to buy 50.1 percent of Philippine oil refiner Petron Corp from a unit of Ashmore Group, reported Reuters.

San Miguel has been diversifying out of its main food and beverage operations to fuel future growth, and the latest deal would, if exercised, mark the third business it has entered into in just over two months.

The Manila-based firm told the local stock exchange that it has two years from Dec. 24, 2008, to exercise the option to buy the Petron stake. It did not give financial details.

San Miguel said it had signed the option agreement with SEA Refinery Holdings BV, a wholly owned subsidiary of London-listed investment manager Ashmore, to buy a unit that owns 50.1 percent of Petron.

Ashmore owns a total 90.57 percent of Petron after buying the state's 40 percent interest for around $544 million last month.

In December, San Miguel signed a deal with Qatar Telecom QTEL.QA to launch wireless broadband and mobile services in the Philippines. That followed its purchase of a 27 percent stake in utility Manila Electric Co for about $607 million in late October.

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