BlackRock Ends Talks with Exxon for Italy LNG Terminal Sale, Vitol Still in the Race

(Reuters) — Asset manager BlackRock Inc. has bowed out of talks to acquire ExxonMobil Corp.'s majority stake in Italy's main liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Global energy trader Vitol SA is among the bidders still in the running for the Adriatic LNG terminal, two of the people said. Italy is expected to increase its LNG imports to replace gas from Russia.

The end of BlackRock talks was first reported by Italian publication Sole 24. Exxon Mobil and BlackRock declined to comment. Vitol did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Exxon in October said it had chosen BlackRock for exclusive talks. But the U.S. oil producer and the top U.S. investment management firm failed to reach an agreement and Exxon moved negotiations to the second highest bidder, the people said.

In March, Exxon said it was considering selling its 70.68% interest in the offshore 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 stakes in the terminal, located about 9 miles (15 km) off the Veneto coastline.

At least four international groups had competed for the deal, with the entire regasification terminal said to be valued at about 800 million euros ($881 million), Reuters previously reported.

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