Oil and Gas

UPDATE 1-Italian refiner Saras shares soar as Trafigura buys stake

(Recasts, adds Trafigura, source)

MILAN, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Shares in Saras soared after global commodity trader Trafigura said it bought a stake of 3% in the Italian refiner, fuelling talk its main shareholder was looking for a partner.

Saras, more than 40% controlled by the Moratti family, has lost more than 65% of its market value since the start of the year, as the coronavirus pandemic undermined demand and prompted the company to raise its inventories.

“We look forward to engaging constructively with Saras as a supportive shareholder,” Trafigura said in an emailed comment to Reuters, confirming it had bought a stake.

Saras shares jumped more than 10% after it emerged Trafigura held 3.01% of the refiner.

“The Morattis realise it’s a very complex business and this year and next will be difficult times, so they’re looking for a partner,” a source familiar with the matter said.

The source said any closer cooperation with a group such as Trafigura would be very positive since it would generate significant synergies.

Saras was not immediately available for a comment.

The Italian company, currently worth around 429 million euros ($507 million), runs the 300,000 barrel per day Sarroch refinery in south-western Sardinia.

In the first half of the year it posted a loss of 41 million euros and recently said it planned to reduce its cost basis by roughly 120 million euros. ($1 = 0.8461 euros) (Reporting by Giancarlo Navach and Stephen Jewkes in Milan and Julia Payne in London; Editing by Alex Richardson)