* Transaction seen improving balance sheet
* EBIT gain of 440 mln eur
* Shares up 0.8 percent
VIENNA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Austrian energy group OMV has agreed to sell its LMG stockholding business to its ELG unit and will have a one-off pretax gain of 440 million euros ($588 million).
OMV said on Friday the sale would make its Refining and Marketing business more comparable with peers, who had mostly outsourced their stockholding obligations if they had any.
ELG is majority-owned by OMV and is the non-profit body that fulfils Austria’s obligation to maintain emergency oil stocks.
“This step is in line with OMV’s strategy to restructure the R&M portfolio in order to improve balance sheet efficiency,” it said in a statement.
OMV shares rose 0.8 percent to 29.93 euros by 1238 GMT, outperforming a flat European oil and gas index.
ELG’s other shareholders are BP, Shell and Eni.
OMV said it expected the transaction to close this quarter, subject to approval from the Austrian Competition Authority.