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    CITGO Bidding Continues Despite Called-Off Sale

    Lazard Ltd. reportedly accepting second-round bids.

    HOUSTON — At least three oil companies continue to actively bid for CITGO Petroleum Corp. even after its owner, Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), called off the sale in October, insiders told Reuters.

    Lazard Ltd., the investment bank PDVSA hired to conduct the sale, has reportedly not ended the process. The deadline for a second round of bids is expected later this month. Insiders who spoke to the news outlet declined to be identified, as they are not authorized to speak to the public.

    The sale was said to have been called off after initial bids came in below the $10-billion asking price, as CSNews Online previously reported. First-round bidders included Marathon Petroleum Corp., Valero Energy Corp., PBF Energy Inc., HollyFrontier Corp. and India's Reliance Industries Ltd.

    Venezuela's Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco stated in late October that the CITGO sale had been ruled out, and that President Nicolas Maduro had affirmed this decision.

    The CITGO sale is controversial in Venezuela. Some officials support a divestment as a sound financial move, while others criticize it as a covert privatization, according to the Reuters report.

    No comments were provided by CITGO, PDVSA, Lazard or the Venezuela Oil Ministry.

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