DUBAI- Oman's state-owned transport group Asyad is weighing the sale of a strategic stake in its subsidiary Oman Shipping Company (OSC), three sources familiar with the matter said.
Asyad has asked banks to pitch for a mandate to help it review a potential deal in which Asyad could divest up to 40% of its ownership, said two sources, who declined to be named as the matter was not public.
Asyad, owned by the Oman Investment Authority, the country's sovereign fund, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. Oman Shipping Company also did not respond to a request for comment.
OSC focuses on transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes to the international market, according to information on its website, with a fleet that includes very large crude carriers, product and chemical tankers, and bulk carriers.
The company lists Global energy trader Vitol, Brazilian miner Vale, and Global commodities trader Trafigura, and energy firms BP and Royal Dutch Shell among its customers and partners.
Asyad said in June it plans to restructure its operations in order to focus on logistics, port services, free zones, shipping, drydocks and e-commerce, the state-run Oman News Agency reported, citing a management decision.
Oman is among the weakest countries financially in the oil-rich region and more vulnerable to swings in the price of hydrocarbons, a sector that accounted for about a third of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.
The country has outlined plans in recent years to sell off state assets as it seeks to confront fiscal deficits built up after a drop in oil prices caused its debt to gross domestic product ratio to swell from about 15% in 2015 to 80% last year.
(Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar and Davide Barbuscia Editing by Peter Graff) ((Hadeel.AlSayegh@thomsonreuters.com; +971566883310;))