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News > International
Petrofina-Total deal talk
November 30, 1998: 9:33 a.m. ET

Trading suspended in Belgian oil giant; announcement due Tuesday
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LONDON (CNNfn) - The Belgian oil company Petrofina hit the spotlight Monday, as speculation grew that the company is about to be taken over by France's Total.
     Petrofina shares were suspended in Brussels, after the company said it would make an announcement early Tuesday.
     "A full takeover is the most likely outcome," according to European oil marketing analyst Suzy Mayne at BT Alex Brown.
     Major shareholder Groupe Bruxelles Lambert said it too would make an announcement, as did Total (PFP).
     Several other Petrofina shareholders said they were holding board meetings Monday to discuss their stakes in the group. In all, the Belgian stock exchange suspended five other companies with links to the oil giant.
     Press reports in Paris claimed a deal would be well above Petrofina's closing price Friday of 14,250 Belgian francs.
     Speculation has centered on Petrofina since the Exxon-Mobil deal was announced last week.
     Total's domestic rival Elf Aquitaine (PAQ) was one of the names originally put forward, despite it having a bid for Petrofina beaten off in 1990.
     Among European oil groups, Petrofina is seen as the most vulnerable to a takeover because of the 30 percent stake linked to financier Albert Frere. He is thought to favor a smaller shareholding in a larger group.
     Shareholders representing around 40 percent of Petrofina's capital will jointly issue a statement at 0530 GMT Tuesday.
     Analysts gave a Total-Petrofina deal a cautious welcome. "The fit is not absolutely clear, but Total does have strong management," said BT Alex Brown's Mayne.
     In Paris Total shares jumped nearly 4 percent to 730 francs, while Elf shares rose a more 1.6 percent to 752 francs.Back to top

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