TORONTO/NEW YORK, May 23 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc has decided to offload a roughly C$4.1 billion ($3 billion) stake in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNRL) that it acquired as part of a deal to retreat from Canada's oil sands earlier this year, people familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Shell has been interviewing investment banks to hire a financial adviser for the share sale, four people said in the past week, declining to be named as the discussions are confidential.
The deal could be one of the biggest-ever equity sales in Canada. The largest Canadian equity deal so far was TransCanada Corp's C$4.4 billion offering last year.
Shell declined to comment, and Canadian Natural did not immediately offer a comment.
In March, Shell agreed to sell most of its Canadian oil sands assets for $8.5 billion, in a major strategic pullback from the capital-intensive business. As part of the transaction, Shell acquired about 98 million Canadian Natural shares, or about 8.8 percent of CNRL's outstanding shares, which are currently valued at about C$4.1 billion.
Shell plans to use the proceeds to help pay down the debt it assumed with the acquisition of British rival BG Group, the people said.
$1 = 1.3506 Canadian dollars Reporting by John Tilak in Toronto and David French in New York; Additional reporting by Ron Bousso in London; Editing by Lisa Shumaker