ITALY: Eni May Cancel 9 per 100 of Its Stock

Sees Kashagan Settlement Soon
Eni SpA, Italy's biggest oil company, may cancel 9 percent of its own stock and begin a new share buyback program, Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni said.

Scaroni also said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev called a Jan. 11 meeting with executives of Eni and the heads of five other foreign oil companies, signaling a potential breakthrough in the dispute over development of the Kashagan oil field. Eni spokesman Gianni di Giovanni confirmed to Bloomberg News today the comments Scaroni made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

A final agreement with Kazakhstan may include the foreign oil companies making a cash payment to the Kazakh government and selling a portion of their stakes to Kazakhstan's state- controlled oil company, KazMunaiGaz National Co. Scaroni estimated that the settlement will cost the foreign oil companies between $3 billion and $4 billion, Di Giovanni said.

Eni, Exxon Mobil Corp., Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc each hold 18.5 percent of Kashagan, while ConocoPhillips has 9.3 percent. Japan's Inpex Corp. and KazMunaiGaz each own 8.3 percent.

The dispute will delay the start of production at the field, one of the biggest oil discoveries in three decades, to 2011 from 2010, Scaroni told the Journal.

Eni shares rose 5 cents, or 0.2 percent, to 25.05 euros in Milan trading yesterday. The stock finished 2007 down 1.7 percent, leaving the company with a market value of 100 billion euros ($147 billion), making Eni the biggest company in Italy by that measure.

Eni has 4 billion shares outstanding, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company owns about 9 percent of the stock itself in its treasury, Di Giovanni said.

Via: Bloomberg|Adam Freeman and Andrew Davis


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