U.S. Judge Approves Sales Process for Shares in Citgo Petroleum's Parent

An auction schedule to sell shares in Citgo Petroleum's parent company, which could force a breakup of the Venezuela-owned U.S. oil refiner, was approved by a U.S. federal judge and filed on Tuesday, Reuters reported. U.S. District Judge Leonard P. Stark's order sets bidding and sales procedures, hiring of investment banker Evercore Group and directs an approach to the U.S. Treasury Department to seek a decision on any share sale. The Treasury has protected Citgo from creditors by previously not allowing transactions. Delaware District court judge Stark last year approved the sale of shares in PDV Holding, whose only asset is Citgo shares, to pay Canadian miner Crystallex $970 million. The money is outstanding from an expropriation judgment on its Venezuelan assets. Citgo is the crown jewel of Venezuela's overseas assets, and has split from its Caracas-based ultimate parent, Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA. It is currently under control of Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido. Horacio Medina, the head of the board supervising Citgo, told Reuters the board is considering its next steps and sees "room to explore alternative options" to any auction. "We are now in meetings with our lawyers to decide the next actions." Judge Stark's process sets a nine-month calendar after the official launch date before he reviews a high bid. That would mean any sale could not happen until late 2023 or early 2024 if the U.S. Treasury authorizes it, Medina said. Read more.