OMV strengthens its sway in the Middle East by raising Borealis stake

VIENNA (Reuters) - Oil and gas group OMV’s supervisory board has approved its plan to buy an additional 39% stake in plastics maker Borealis from Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala for $4.7 billion, the firm said on Wednesday.

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The deal, still subject to regulatory approval, is a major step forward in OMV’s strategy of expanding its petrochemical business in the Middle East, as the new 75% holding in Borealis gives it more say in a key project on the Abu Dhabi coast.

Borealis is the part-operator, via its Borouge joint venture with the Abu Dhabi National Oil (ADNOC), of the Ruwais refinery 240 km (150 miles) west of Abu Dhabi, which ADNOC plans to develop into the world’s largest integrated refinery and petrochemicals plant.

The expansion is part of a plan by the United Arab Emirates to establish itself as an exporter of petrochemical products, particularly to China.

The deal reduces Mubadala’s stake in Borealis to 25%. Mubadala holds 24.9% of OMV, while OMV holds a 15% stake in ADNOC’s refining business.

OMV Chief Executive Rainer Seele has said that investments in Ruwais were needed to enable the use of different feedstocks and the processing of heavier, more sour crude at the site.

In addition, the construction of a fourth petrochemical complex at the site is planned.

OMV did not say yet how it plans to finance the acquisition. However, it delayed a planned nearly 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) purchase of Siberian gas assets on Friday.

In the past, the group has shed several assets that it labeled as non-core to finance new buys.

The signing of the deal is expected on Thursday and the closing by the end of this year, OMV said.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Jan Harvey