- - Sunday, January 29, 2012

ENERGY

Exxon selling Japanese subsidiary in $3.9B deal

Exxon Mobil Corp. is selling its Japanese refining and marketing business to partner TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K. in a deal valued at $3.9 billion.

TonenGeneral Sekiyu will buy 99 percent of the shares of Exxon Mobil Yugen Kaisha, which refines and sells fuel and lubricants, the Japanese refiner said. Exxon Mobil’s stake in TonenGeneral will drop to 22 percent from 50 percent.

Exxon Mobil said the deal, announced Sunday, will result in a refining and marketing business “better positioned to meet Japan’s energy needs.”

Large oil and gas companies have been shedding refining operations in recent years, especially in developed markets where demand for gasoline and diesel has been weak. Tightening car and truck fuel-economy rules are expected to keep demand for fuels low for years to come.

Marathon Oil spun off its refining operations last July. This summer, Conoco Phillips also plans to split itself in two, separating its refining operations from its more profitable oil and gas exploration and production business. BP and Shell are selling refineries in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Exploring and producing oil and gas is generally more profitable than refining crude into gasoline and diesel. It offers investors a chance for faster growth. Also, oil prices are high and are expected to remain so, which has helped producer profits and funded a boom in new exploration.

EUROPE

Credit ratings downgraded on 5 eurozone nations

FRANKFURT, Germany — Fitch Ratings downgraded the debt of Italy, Spain and three other countries that use the euro on Friday, a setback as European leaders work on several fronts to contain the Continent’s government-debt crisis.

The lower government-debt ratings for Italy, Spain, Belgium, Cyprus and Slovenia could make it more expensive for these countries to borrow.

Fitch said its decision was based on the deteriorating economic outlook in Europe, a concern that Europe’s bailout fund is not large enough and a belief that European leaders are not acting quickly or boldly enough to prevent the debt crisis from worsening.

The downgrade came after European financial markets had closed. The major stock indexes of Germany, France and Britain fell slightly on Friday, while the euro rose 0.83 percent to $1.3189.

CALIFORNIA

New auto-emission rules OK’d by state

SAN FRANCISCO — Seeking to influence other states and Washington, California air regulators passed sweeping auto-emission standards Friday that include a mandate to have 1.4 million electric and hybrid vehicles on state roads by 2025.

The California Air Resources Board unanimously approved the new rules that require that one in seven of the new cars sold in the state in 2025 be an electric or other zero-emission vehicle.

The plan also mandates a 75 percent reduction in smog-forming pollutants by 2025, and a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions from today’s standards.

AIRLINES

Spain’s Spanair ceases operations

MADRID — Spanair ceased operations late Friday after a regional government in Spain announced it could no longer fund the airline, officials said.

Spanair’s financial woes were exacerbated by a 2008 crash that killed 154 people. Eighteen people survived what was Spain’s worst aviation disaster in 25 years.

The regional government of northeastern Catalonia, which had been investing in the country’s No. 4 airline since its 2008 purchase from SAS Scandinavian Airlines System International, said that it could no longer bankroll Spanair.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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