Berkshire cuts stake in PetroChina


HONG KONG — U.S. investor Warren Buffett further cut his stake in the listed shares of PetroChina Co. to 8.93 percent from 9.07 percent, according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange Thursday.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold 28.0 million PetroChina H shares — shares of a China-based company listed in Hong Kong — at an average price of HK$11.47 each Sept. 6, the document showed. The total sale was worth around HK$321.2 million (US$41.3 million; euro29.4 million).

It was the third time over the past two months the Omaha-based company has publicly disclosed a sale of the listed shares of PetroChina — the biggest China oil and gas producer by market capitalization.

Berkshire Hathaway said in an earlier filing it sold 92.66 million PetroChina shares at HK$11.47 each Aug. 29, cutting its stake to 9.72 percent from 10.16 percent.

And it said it sold 16.9 million PetroChina shares July 12 at an average price of HK$12.441, reducing its holding at the time to 10.96 percent from 11.05 percent.

Under Hong Kong Exchange regulation, only reduction or increase of a stakeholding across a whole percentage number needs to be reported to the exchange. In between the disclosed sales, Berkshire Hathaway has apparently been cutting its share capital holding in the company in sales that do not require disclosure.

Despite the recent share sales, Berkshire Hathaway remains PetroChina’s second-largest shareholder after the company’s unlisted state-owned parent, China National Petroleum Corp.

CNPC owns 88.21 percent of PetroChina. The remainder is listed in Hong Kong and the U.S. via depositary receipts. Berkshire Hathaway’s 8.93 percent holding in the listed share capital of PetroChina gives it a 1.05 percent stake in the company.

The U.S. investor has been under pressure to cut ties with PetroChina because of the company’s investments in Sudan.

CNPC signed a 20-year oil deal with Sudan in June which activists say Chinese investments are helping Sudanese leaders resist pressure over Darfur.