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Santos is selling its stake in assets in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh for $US221 million to help slash its debt and increase its focus on its natural gas operations in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The sale to London-listed Ophir Energy marks the company’s exit from those Asian countries, and the workers at the oil and gas projects will transfer to Ophir.

It is expected Ophir shareholders will be asked to approve the sale in June, and the proceeds of the deal will be used to cut net debt, which was $US2.5 billion at the end of March this year, Santos said.

Santos managing director and chief executive Kevin Gallagher said the sale would simplify the company’s business so it could focus on its five core long-life natural gas assets in Australia and PNG.

The assets to be sold produced 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent in the first quarter of 2018, while the company’s total production was 13.8 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Santos shares were up 1.5 cents at $6.215 at 1205 AEST.