Exxon Mobil to sell majority stake in Italy LNG terminal to BlackRock

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp chose BlackRock as the potential buyer for its majority stake in Italy's main LNG import terminal, the U.S. oil producer said in a statement.

The stake sale drew interest from infrastructure funds and international groups as Italy is expected to increase its LNG imports to partly replace the gas it used to get via pipeline from Russia.

In March, Exxon said it was considering selling its 70.68% interest in the offshore Adriatic LNG Terminal as part of its strategy to divest non-core assets.

A subsidiary of QatarEnergy (22%) and Italian gas grid operator Snam (7.3%) owns the remaining stake in the terminal, about 9 miles (15 km) off the Veneto coastline.

Snam, which has the first right of refusal should a partner decide to divest, could increase its current stake, its chief executive has said.

The gas grid operator, which is controlled by the Italian government, could up its shareholding to about 30% of Adriatic LNG to get governance rights on the energy infrastructure, two industry sources told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At least four international groups competed for the deal, with the entire regasification terminal said to be valued at about $881 MM, Reuters previously reported.

"The selection is the result of a thorough evaluation process that involved several prospective buyers," an Exxon spokesperson said.

Exxon said it continued to work on the transaction as a final agreement had not been reached. Terms were not disclosed.

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