Finance/Companies news briefs, July 7

Brazil's Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) granted eight funds permission to bid for a large share offer in Petroleo Brasileiro SA, expected to place in the coming weeks. The federal government will hold a public offering for 31% of the total company capital. The eight funds authorized to bid are: HSBC Holdings PLC; Bradesco Banco, Brazil's largest private bank; ABN Amro Holding; Finasa; and four funds from Unibanco, another Brazilian bank. Once the share offer is realized, the federal government will still hold 51% of the company capital, and thus control of the firm. The last remaining hurdle for the sale to go forward is approval by the CVM and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Crestar Energy Inc., Calgary, will pay $141.9 million (Can.) for all outstanding shares of CMS Oil & Gas Ecuador LDC, which holds a 14% interest in a 1,240-square mile block in Ecuador�s Oriente basin. The acquisition gives Crestar 5,000 b/d of crude production and 43 million bbl of proven reserves on the block. CEO Barry Jackson said the company is buying into a block where it believes there is a lot of room for expansion. Block 16 can produce 40,000 b/d but is limited by pipeline capacity. The existing SOTE pipeline is scheduled to be connected with the OCP Pipeline in 2002. Negotiations are under way for completion of that line. A five-company consortium is considering participation in the line, which would cost $600-800 million. The CMS acquisition is the first foreign venture for Crestar, which is a major Western Canada producer.

Qatar Fertilizers Co. (QAFCO) said Thursday it has signed a deal with Hydro France for marketing 150,000 tonnes/year of QAFCO urea in South Africa. Under the agreement, Hydro France will sell the urea in South Africa and neighboring countries, such as Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia and Angola. A QAFCO spokesman said today that, when the agreement takes effect, QAFCO's exports to South Africa will reach 180,000 tonnes/year, taking into account quantities already sold outside the scope of the new accord, compared with 88,000 tonnes delivered in 1998 and 66,000 tonnes last year. QAFCO is a joint-venture of Qatar General Petroleum Corp. (75%) and Norsk Hydro AS of Norway (25%).

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