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UPDATE 2-Sasol to raise $2 bln in part sale of U.S chemicals unit to LyondellBasell

    * Co to part sell base chemicals unit
    * LyondellBasell to be operator of unit
    * Transaction will help pare debt 
    * Shares fall by 7% by 1400 GMT

 (Adds share price)
    By Tanisha Heiberg
    JOHANNESBURG, Oct 2 (Reuters) - South Africa's Sasol
         said on Friday chemical company LyondellBasell
Industries         had agreed to acquire a 50% stake in a unit
of its U.S-based business for $2 billion, helping the
petrochemicals firm to cut debt.
    As part of the agreement, the two companies will form a
50/50 joint venture which will take over the base chemicals
business at Lake Charles. LyondellBasell will be the operator of
the new JV firm, Sasol said.
    The Lake Charles project consists of seven manufacturing
units for products used in cleaning, detergents and cosmetics.
    Sasol said it will retain full ownership of the U.S
performance chemicals business as well as the original ethane
cracker. 
    "The transaction will represent a significant step towards
achieving Sasol's strategic and financial objectives by
materially reducing net debt," the company said.
    The world's top manufacturer of motor fuel from coal has
been battling high debt amid lower oil and chemicals prices,
prompting it to search for a partner at the Louisiana-based
plant and propose a rights issue of up to $2 billion in 2021.
            
    The company's total debt stood at 189.7 billion rand 
($11.35 billion) for the year to June 30, exacerbated by years
of delay and cost overruns of around $4 billion compared to
early estimates in building LCCP (Lake Charles Chemical
Project), prompting the resignations of its joint chief
executives in 2019.                         
    "(The company) is swinging more to an improved balance
sheet," said Sasol's Chief Financial Officer Paul Victor during
a conference call. 
    Its shares, however, fluctuated between positive and
negative territories through the day. They were trading down
almost 7% at 1400 GMT after gaining around 3% post announcement.
    A 4% drop in oil prices also weighed on the
stock.            
    "The market had a perception that if they could get a deal
with Lake Charles they wouldn't need a rights issue but ...
looks like they still have too much debt," said Greg Davies,
trader at Cratos Capital. 
    The value of the assets was $3.9 billion and recorded a loss
 of $2.3 billion for the year ended June 30, Sasol said. 
    Sasol said it expected the transaction, subject to
shareholder approval, to be completed before the end of the
year.  

($1 = 16.7146 rand)

 (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg
Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Kirsten Donovan and David Evans)
  
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