Repsol, Criteria, GIP seek agreements over Gas Natural management -source

MADRID, Sept 12 (Reuters) - A deal between Spain’s Repsol and Criteria-Caixa with U.S. investment fund GIP over selling some of their shares in Gas Natural would see the three firms strike agreements on management issues and strategy, a source said on Monday.

Earlier this month sources told Reuters that GIP was in preliminary discussions with Repsol and Criteria Caixa, a holding company that owns Caixabank, to each sell around 10 percent of Gas Natural.

Repsol and Criteria have not confirmed which investors they are talking to. They have said that they are exploring the sale of a combined 20 percent in the Spanish gas company. The stake is valued at 3.8 billion euros ($4.2 billion) at market prices.

A source close to the situation told Reuters on Monday that Repsol, Criteria and GIP were looking to reach agreements on how to manage Gas Natural and map out its corporate strategy, adding that a deal on the stake sale could be reached by the end of September.

It would not be an official shareholder’s pact as under Spanish law shareholders that have effective control of over 30 percent of a company must launch a full takeover bid. In the proposed sale, Repsol and Criteria would respectively retain 20 percent and 24 percent stakes in Gas Natural.

GIP would have three people on Gas Natural’s 17-strong board, in proportion to the size of its stake, the source said.

Spokesmen for Repsol and Caixa declined to comment. A spokesman for GIP was not immediately available to comment.

GIP’s entry into Gas Natural would bring an end to a shareholders’ agreement between Repsol and Criteria that has allowed them to control the company since 2000, the source said. The Spanish firms made the agreement before the law changed. (Reporting by Jose Elías Rodríguez; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Greg Mahlich)