November 7, 2016 / 5:41 PM / 9 months ago

Italy's Saras says it will clear Iranian oil debt in 2017

MILAN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Italian oil refiner Saras has paid 160 million euros ($177 million) of the debt it owes Iran for crude oil bought before sanctions were imposed and its chief financial officer said the total debt to Tehran will be cleared next year.

Analysts have estimated the company's Iranian debt at about 350 million euros and the company said it paid 50 million euros in the second quarter and 110 million euros in the third.

"A further 100 million euros will be paid by year-end," CFO Franco Balsamo told analysts in a conference call on Monday's third-quarter results. "The rest will be paid in 2017."

International financial sanctions on Iran were lifted in January after a deal over nuclear weapons development, though banking ties remain restricted.

Saras, which is partly owned by Russian oil giant Rosneft , used to take a significant part of its feedstock from Iran before the embargo.

The company reported third-quarter core earnings of 100.5 million euros, below a company-supplied consensus forecast of 132 million euros.

General Manager Dario Scaffardi said the worse than expected result was because the company had opted to stockpile gasoil for sale in the fourth quarter when it expects prices to be higher.

"October was extremely positive and November has started with a bang," Scaffardi said. "All in all I'm pretty positive on the latter part of the year."

Saras shares were down 0.8 percent at 1635 GMT, having recovered from steep losses earlier in the session. ($1 = 0.9062 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by David Goodman)

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