SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – Hanjin Energy Co. has sold all of its stake in South Korean refiner S-Oil Corp to Saudi Aramco’s overseas unit, the refiner said Tuesday, in a deal aimed at easing financial troubles at the energy firm’s parent company.The stake sale came six months after Hanjin Energy, an affiliate owned by No. 1 full-service carrier Korean Air Lines Co., announced its plan to sell 31.9 million shares worth 1.98 trillion won (US$1.83 billion) to Aramco Overseas Company B.V., a unit of Saudi Arabia’s state oil firm.
In a regulatory filing, S-Oil said Aramco Overseas’ interest in the refiner has risen to 63.4 percent from 28.41 percent after the deal.
The refiner also said two of the outside directors as well as an audit commission member quit “for personal reasons.” All of them had connections with Korean Air and its affiliates, raising speculations that the stake sale may have affected their departure.
The move comes as Korean Air has been seeking to reduce its snowballing debt. The carrier’s debt ratio tallied at 837 percent as of end-September, and it is expected to reach close to 1,000 percent when its posts its fourth-quarter earnings later this month.