* Company said in Oct may divest in face of sanctions
* Sasol has U.S. listing so must abide by SEC rules
* Move not directly related to unrest this week (Adds background, quote, details)
JOHANNESBURG, NOV 30 - South African petrochemicals group Sasol said on Wednesday it had entered talks to potentially divest from its operations in Iran, a move already flagged in October.
Sasol had said in a filing to the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission last month that there was a possible risk that sanctions may be imposed on the company by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations as a result of its investments in Iran.
This would stem from sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes but the United States and its allies fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Sasol has a stock market listing in New York.
“We previously announced our intention to review our investment in Iran and we have subsequently entered into discussions to potentially divest our stake in Arya Sasol Polymers Company,” chief financial officer Christine Ramon
said in a statement.
Sasol has a 50 percent stake in Arya Sasol Polymer company, a joint venture with Pars Petrochemical Company of Iran. The venture produces ethylene and polyethylene, which are used in the production of plastics.
Britain began evacuating diplomatic staff from Iran on Wednesday and warned of serious consquences for the Iranian government, one day after protesters stormed the British Embassy in the most violent incident yet as relations rapidly deteriorate.
Britain last week banned all its financial institutions from any dealings with Iran, including its central bank, after a report by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency suggested Iran may have worked on developing a nuclear arsenal.
Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing By Marius Bosch