S.Korea's S-Oil preferred to buy Australia's United Petroleum stake

SEOUL Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:19am EST

SEOUL Jan 29 (Reuters) - S-Oil Corp was picked as the preferred bidder to buy a stake in Australia's United Petroleum with the right for exclusive talks, the South Korean refiner said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

The privately owned Australian company is exploring a potential sale or a joint venture of the business that has a value of about A$1 billion ($921 million) including debt, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last year.

S-Oil's largest shareholder with a 35 percent stake is Aramco Overseas Co B.V., a unit of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco).

The refining unit of another South Korean firm, SK Innovation considered buying the stake but did not participate in the bidding process, the company said earlier this month. (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Anand Basu)