UPDATE 2-Cenovus says asset sale delayed by weak markets

Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:28pm EDT
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* Asset sale delayed as buyers lack financing

* Q1 output up 15 pct, operating profit C$0.52 vs est. C$0.48

* Cheaper Canadian crude helps margins at U.S. refineries

* Sees Q2 operating cash flow of C$250 mln-C$350 mln from refining

* Shares rise 1.6 pct

By Scott Haggett and Krithika Krishnamurthy

CALGARY, Alberta, April 24 (Reuters) - Cenovus Energy , Canada's No. 2 independent oil producer, said on Wednesday that the sale of some of its Saskatchewan oil properties put on the block earlier this year has been delayed by a "down draft" in the country's capital markets.

Cenovus, whose first-quarter operating profit topped expectation with a 15 percent rise, said the smaller companies that are the likely buyers for its Saskatchewan Bakken and Lower Shaunavon assets are finding it difficult to find money to finance the purchase.

"We've certainly seen a very significant down draft in the Canadian energy market in the last three or four week period," Brian Ferguson, Cenovus' chief executive said on a conference call. "Companies (that are interested in the fields) are telling us that right now they're having a challenge accessing capital markets here in Canada because they are smaller Canadian players."   Continued...