The Exxon Mobil Corp. plans to sell a large part of its 50 percent stake in TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK back to its Japanese refining partner in a deal that could be worth about 300 billion yen ($3.9 billion), with an announcement to be made as early as Monday, four sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Exxon Mobil will retain about a 20 percent stake in TonenGeneral, but the deal will mark a de facto retreat from the world's third-largest economy by the U.S. oil giant, which is focusing its resources on emerging markets and development of natural resources.
The move could also spark realignment among Japan's oil refiners, which have been cutting capacity to cope with falling demand caused by a weak economy and a shift to more efficient and environmentally friendly forms of energy, analysts have said.
Reuters reported this month that Exxon Mobil was in talks to sell part of the stake back to TonenGeneral.
TonenGeneral, which imports and distributes Exxon oil in Japan, ranks as the country's No. 2 refiner behind JX Holdings. Smaller rivals include the Idemitsu Kosan Co., Cosmo Oil, and Showa Shell.
Exxon Mobil and TonenGeneral aim to complete the deal this summer, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
TonenGeneral will seek funds from the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Sumitomo Trust Banking, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, and Mitsubishi Trust Bank to buy back the stake, the sources said.
($1 = 76.7350 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Taro Fuse and Emoto Emi; Writing by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Ed Lane)