Shell quits entire Woodside stake

Royal Dutch Shell is selling almost two-thirds of its stake in Woodside Petroleum, the largest independent energy group in Australia, for $1.7bn (£840m).

It will retain a 4.8% interest after the latest deal completes on later and has agreed not to sell any of its remaining shares for a minimum of 90 days.

The sale represents 64 per cent of Shell's stake in Woodside and 8.5 per cent of Woodside's issued capital, Shell said.

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Sign up here for free access to 7 articles per month + twice daily business email alerts. The announcement came after Perth-based company's stock closed at $32.24.

With the Woodside deal, Shell has so far sold or agreed to sell almost $25 billion as part of a three-year, $30 billion asset sales programme launched following the acquisition of BG Group in 2015.

Shell once owned a third of Woodside.

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Analysts at investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co said that Shell's $30 billion target "is easily within reach and we see the potential for this to be increased at the Management Day" on November 28. Sale proceeds will be used to reduce Shell's net debt, Jessica Uhl, chief financial officer of Shell, said in the statement.

Oil and gas giant Shell is parting ways with Woodside Petroleum after a long relationship as a key shareholder of the Australian company.

Shell was originally planning to offload a $2.2 billion stake in Woodside to a pair of investment banks. Shell was blocked from taking over Woodside by then Treasurer, Peter Costello in a bid worth $US5.1 billion.

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