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Sat 6 Sep 2008 11:18 PM

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Santander, Fenosa in talks over Cepsa stakes with IPIC

Combined shareholdings would give Abu Dhabi-owned IPIC 45% stake.

Santander and Union Fenosa are close to a deal to sell stakes in Cepsa to Abu Dhabi state-owned investment firm IPIC, Spanish media said on Saturday, citing sources close to the talks.Spanish bank Santander owns around 31 percent of the energy company while Spanish utility Union Fenosa owns around 5 percent.

The International Petroleum Company (IPIC), which invests in gas and oil assets for the government of Abu Dhabi, already owns 9.5 percent of Cepsa.

Acquiring Santander and Fenosa's stakes would give it over 45 percent in the company, making it the second largest shareholder behind the French oil group Total , which owns 48.8 percent.

Negotiations are still ongoing and will continue over the weekend, sources close to the talks told Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo.

Santander and Fenosa are selling their stakes in Cepsa together, with Santander leading the talks, said financial daily Expansion.

The stakes are worth up to 7 billion euros ($9.97 billion) on Cepsa's current share price, although they are likely to change hands for less than market value, some sources close to the deal told the paper.

Santander and Union Fenosa both declined to comment on the reports.

Spanish utility Gas Natural , which is in the process of completing a 16.8 billion euro takeover bid for Union Fenosa had already said it would sell the Cepsa stake. (Reuters)

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