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Shell to sell Woodside stake

Shell has put a significant portion of its 34 per cent stake in Woodside Petroleum up for sale for $3.3bn (£2bn), fuelling speculation that Australia's largest oil and gas firm could become a bid target.

The oil major said it would retain a stake of about 24 per cent in Woodside for at least a year, unless a takeover or strategic buyer emerged.

Shell, whose takeover bid for Woodside in 2000 was blocked by the Australian government, said it no longer needed to use Woodside as a vehicle for investment in the country.

The miner BHP Billiton and China's PetroChina are viewed as potential buyers.