Shell sell-down could benefit Woodside

Shell sell-down could benefit Woodside A haul up for Woodside Petroleum shares is possible if oil and gas company Shell offloads its stake in Woodside for almost $8 billion.

Royal Dutch Shell, a joint-venture partner in Woodside's Browse project in Western Australia, has earlier specified it will begin an asset sales program under the stewardship of Ben van Beurden its new chief executive.

In Europe JPMorgan analysts say Shell could gather $US6.95 billion ($A7.82 billion) by selling its 23.1 per cent interest in Woodside.

They say it is possible that Shell could get on with an overall divestment program, bringing in $US25 billion to $US30 billion during 2014-15.

Andy Williams, RBC Capital Markets analyst said any sale would most likely be done in tranches, but it was unclear when it might occur.

He said, ''Shell has indicated previously that they're not a long-term holder so I think it probably overhangs the share price from an investor's point of view.''

''Reducing it to below 10 per cent or divesting it in its entirety is probably beneficial for Woodside in terms of the market investment opportunity.'' He added.

Some institutions have been cautious about investing in Woodside, fearing a Shell sell-down could lead to a discount in the company's share price. On Friday, shares in Woodside dropped 43 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $38.13.

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