Buffett continues to cut PetroChina stake

Investor Warren Buffett further reduced his stake in the listed shares of oil and gas giant PetroChina to 7.99% from 8.21%, according to a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange Friday.

Human rights activists and some investors have urged Buffett to cut ties with PetroChina because of the company's investments in Sudan, where four years of bloodshed have left 200,000 people dead.

PetroChina's parent, China National Petroleum Corp., signed a 20-year oil deal with Sudan in June that activists believe helps Sudanese leaders resist pressure over the bloodshed in Darfur.

This was the fourth time since July that Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway brkabrkb holding company has publicly disclosed sales of listed shares in PetroChina — the biggest listed Chinese oil and gas producer by output.

The latest sale came Sept. 13, when Berkshire Hathaway sold 45.14 million PetroChina H shares at an average price of HK$11.26 each, the document showed. The total sale was worth around HK$508.3 million ($65.48 million).

Analysts said they were not surprised Buffett sold down PetroChina shares to take profits. Shares of PetroChina Friday ended at record HK$14.74.

"I expect Buffett will continue to sell down its stake in PetroChina to take profits, given crude oil price is this high," said Duncan Chan, an analyst at China Construction Bank International Securities.

Oil prices rose back above $83 a barrel Friday, near record highs.

Under Hong Kong Exchange regulations, only reductions or increases of shares across a whole percentage number needs to be reported to the exchange. In between the disclosed sales, Berkshire Hathaway has apparently been cutting its share capital holding in the company in sales that do not require disclosure.

Despite the recent share sales, Berkshire Hathaway remains PetroChina's second-largest shareholder, after the company's unlisted state-owned parent, China National Petroleum.