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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Slovenia Won't Sell Petrol to Gazprom

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- The Slovenian government said it will not sell its stake in Petrol Group to Gazprom after the gas giant's CEO, Alexei Miller, said he received a proposal to buy into the fuel retailer.

"The government is not selling and doesn't plan to sell its stake in Petrol," Slovenian Economic Minister Matej Lahovnik told reporters in Ljubljana on Sunday. "I have met Miller recently in St. Petersburg, and we only discussed plans on the South Stream natural gas pipeline and not a word on Petrol."

The government indirectly controls 29 percent of Petrol, Slovenia's biggest energy provider, through two funds -- Kapitalska Druzba and Slovenska Odskodninska Druzba -- according to Petrol's web site.

Speaking at the European Business Congress on the Italian island of Sardinia, Miller said Gazprom had received a proposal to buy a stake in Petrol.

Gazprom is among several energy companies seeking to expand in southeastern Europe, where weakening economic growth and tumbling oil prices have driven down energy stocks. The company agreed last year to buy a controlling stake in Naftna Industrija Srbije of Serbia, where it plans to build a section of its South Stream pipeline.

Petrol, which has lost 50 percent of its value in 12 months, has a market value of 643 million euros ($900 million). Petrol CEO Marko Kryzanowski, who resigned last week, denied reports last year that the company may be taken over, saying it would be a "big bite to swallow for any competitor."

"Rumors about selling the stake in Petrol just confirm the urgent need to appoint a new chief executive officer who will ensure the company's stability," Lahovnik said on Sunday.