Four bidders vie for stake in Exxon LNG terminal in Italy

(Reuters) - Four international groups are competing to buy Exxon Mobil Corp's majority stake in a liquefied natural gas terminal offshore Italy, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The deal could value the entire LNG terminal at around $881 MM, the sources said.

Exxon said in March it was considering selling its majority stake in Adriatic LNG, Italy's main regasification terminal, as part of a wider strategy to divest non-core assets. The U.S. group is being advised by Rothschild & Co. on the process.

The sale has attracted interest from several infrastructure funds and international groups as Italy is expected to increase its LNG imports to partly replace the gas it used to get via pipeline from Russia.

BlackRock, Igneo Infrastructure Partners, German asset manager IKAV, and energy infrastructure group VTTI, which is linked to commodity trader Vitol and Australian infrastructure fund IFM, have been short-listed to buy the majority stake in the terminal, one of the sources said.

BlackRock, IKAV and VTTI were not immediately available for comment. Igneo Infrastructure Partners and Rothschild declined to comment.

"As a corporate practice, we don't comment on market rumors or speculation," Exxon spokesperson Todd Spitler told Reuters.

The LNG terminal is owned by Exxon's subsidiary ExxonMobil Italiana Gas (70.7%), QatarEnergy subsidiary Qatar Terminal Company Limited (22%) and Italian gas grid operator Snam (7.3%).

Snam, which has the first right of refusal should a partner decide to divest, could increase its current stake, its CEO recently said.

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