* Pemex owns 9.3 percent of Repsol
* Repsol stake has market value of 2.3 billion euros
* Pemex hires Credit Agricole to handle sale - report
(Adds Pemex no comment, background, detail from sources)
By Jose Elías Rodríguez and Tracy Rucinski
MADRID, May 5 Mexican state-run oil company
Pemex is preparing to sell its 9.3 percent stake in
Spain's Repsol, according to a media report on Monday,
after the appointment of a new chief executive further soured
relations between the two firms.
Pemex, Repsol's third-biggest stakeholder and a long-time
investor in the group, has hired Credit Agricole to
handle the sale, Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial said,
citing financial sources. At current market prices, the stake is
worth 2.3 billion euros ($3.2 billion).
Pemex and Credit Agricole declined to comment.
Pemex has had an increasingly fractious relationship with
Repsol in recent years, marred by disagreements over how the
Spanish group handled the loss of a unit in Argentina and the
degree of influence it has allowed its Mexican partner.
Last week, Pemex voted against the appointment of Josu Jon
Imaz in the new role of chief executive, a source close familiar
with the board decision has said.
Pemex, which has clashed publicly with Chairman Antonio
Brufau over his leadership style and strategy, had been pushing
hard for a deputy in an attempt to increase its influence over
the company's strategy. But the appointment of Imaz, who is
considered a close confidante of Brufau, has failed to satisfy
the Mexican firm.
The move effectively leaves executive powers in the hands of
Chairman Antonio Brufau while delegating oversight of the
company's key divisions to Imaz.
Pemex was losing patience and weighing an exit as a result,
two sources familiar with the situation said.
Repsol said on Saturday Imaz's appointment had received the
backing of 15 out of 16 board members. The company declined to
comment further on Monday.
An Repsol exit would allow Pemex to raise some cash at a
time when Mexico is opening up its oil and gas sector to foreign
investors, a major game changer for the company which has said
it wants to take advantage of that to expand its foreign
Pemex said in December it could potentially team up with
Repsol for this expansion, and had hoped it could patch up the
Repsol shares were 1 percent lower at 1047 GMT on Monday.
Pemex's departure could have some benefits for Repsol, some
analysts said, as it would lift some of the uncertainty over the
firms' embittered relationship.
"The final departure of Pemex would put an end to the
divestment risk of this shareholder ... and to the conflicts in
the board of directors," analysts at Banco Sabadell said in a
note to clients.
El Confidencial said Pemex could sell its Repsol holding in
several stages, including a market offering. Companies usually
hire more than one bank to handle such sales.
Spanish newspaper Expansion also reported on Monday that
businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir, chairman of Spanish
infrastructure company OHL, had offered to take a large
stake in Repsol if any shareholders sold out.
A spokesman for Grupo Villar Mir, a holding company
comprising the businessman's OHL stake as well as his energy and
property interests, denied the report.
"There has been no contact or conversation over taking a
stake in Repsol," the spokesman said.
Spanish bank La Caixa is Repsol's biggest
shareholder, with about 12 percent.
($1 = 0.7212 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Tomas Cobos in Madrid, with Matthieu
Protard and Blaise Robinson in Paris; Writing by Sarah White;
Editing by Erica Billingham)