UPDATE 3-Venezuelan finance minister rules out Citgo Petroleum sale-media
(Adds analyst's comment in paragraph 12)
By Andrew Cawthorne
CARACAS Oct 26 (Reuters) - Venezuela has ruled out the sale of state oil company PDVSA's U.S. refining subsidiary Citgo Petroleum, Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco said in an interview published in local media on Sunday.
"The sale of Citgo has been ruled out and the president has affirmed it," Marco told newspaper El Universal.
"Venezuela will continue with Citgo and will continue to invest in refineries," he said.
Cash-strapped PDVSA was hoping the sale could fetch between $8 billion and $10 billion, welcome revenue amid falling oil prices, major debt payments and an economy widely believed to be in recession.
Several analysts, however, had put Citgo's valuation at well below that, and the sale had come under fire locally from members of the Socialist government's leftist bloc who said it was a covert privatisation.
The government had shrouded the deal in secrecy, leaving analysts and industry players scrambling to piece together a rationale for the surprise divestment, and now the apparent reversal.
President Nicolas Maduro said last month Citgo would continue with a welfare project in the United States, a comment which was interpreted by some as a sign the government was reconsidering plans to sell, though he said nothing specifically about that. Continuación...