CITGO Bidders May Include Tesoro, Western Refining

NEW YORK — CITGO Petroleum Corp.'s owner, Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), is seeking preliminary offers for the U.S. unit by the end of the month, and several familiar names have come up as potential bidders.

Investment bank Lazard Ltd., which is running the sale process for CITGO on behalf of PDVSA, has sent offering materials to potential buyers, two people familiar with the deal told Reuters.

Any sale could hit $10 billion. The assets being offered as part of the Lazard process have annual EBITDA of around $1.5 billion,  sources said.

CITGO operates three U.S. refineries in Lemont, Ill.; Lake Charles, La.; and Corpus Christi, Texas, capable of handling 749,000 gallons of fuel per day. CITGO also sells motor fuels via nearly 6,000 gas stations in the United States, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Bidders for the refineries could include Western Refining Inc., Tesoro Corp., Valero Energy Corp., PBF Energy Inc. and HollyFrontier Corp.

CITGO also has 48 petroleum product terminals, three fully owned pipelines and six jointly owned pipelines in the U.S. Its brand is carried on thousands of gas stations that are independently owned. Bidders can put in offers for individual assets, which include the refineries, terminals, storage and wholesale operations, according to Reuters.

Representatives for Lazard could not be immediately reached, while PDVSA told the news outlet it was "looking into the matter."

PDVSA also has a 50-percent stake in the Chalmette refinery in Louisiana alongside Exxon Mobil Corp., which owns the remainder. The Venezuelan oil company has tapped Deutsche Bank separately to explore a sale of its stake in that refinery, the news agency reported.

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