Corporate News - Bulletin 109 (Jan 10)
Canadian deals are prominent; Australia's Caltex streamlines capacity; Ford steps closer to Volvo sale, but Saab faces extinction; Shell sells in Scandinavia; and merger and investment news in Uganda.
Canada is the focus strong corporate activity in lubricants this month, starting with Total Canada who have agreed a deal worth an estimated $811m to buy Ultramar's lubricants business. The agreement will see Total branded products, including synthetic and biodegradable lubricants sold through the Ultramar network.
Meanwhile Parkland Income Fund is set to become Canada's largest national independent petroleum distributor with news of its acquisition of Bluewave Energy. The C$214m (US$206m) deal nets Parkland a major rival, with Bluewave being Shell's largest national branded distributor and extends Parkland's network into Atlantic Canada.
In Australia, Caltex announced the closure of the last remaining Group 1 refinery in the country - the 3,300 b/d Kurnell plant. The closure was blamed on lack of viability and poor feedstocks. Caltex, a subsidiary of Chevron, also announced significantly reduced profits for 2009 and predict a "weak outlook" for the first half of 2010. As well as $170m in one-off costs, Caltex's opportunities for growth were further hindered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's decision to block the company's purchase of ExxonMobil's 300 petrol stations.
In Scandinavia there was mixed news for the automotive sector. Ford announced that the sale of its Volvo brand to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group was a significant step closer with all the "substantive commercial terms" of the deal now settled. The sale still has to jump a number of financial and political hurdles, but Ford are confident of a final announcement in early 2010.
Image: Saab Newsroom
There was less positive news from General Motors who announced the closure of Sweden's iconic Saab automotive brand. The news was greeted with shock both by staff and fans of the famously reliable cars, with a huge outpouring of sympathy and support across the media. However, throughout GM's deliberations, niche sportscar maker, Spyker, had been unsuccessfully bidding to buy the Swedish manufacturer. By the end of December, GM had made it clear that the Dutch specialist was not going to succeed, but Spyker persisted and were intent on lodging a third and final bid ahead of the extended January deadline.
Also on a Swedish theme, Shell handed over its Nordic sales and distribution to marketing specialists, Univar. The company will handle Shell products in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. In a separate announcement, Shell is considering selling it's Swedish refinery in Gothenburg, plus its marketing business in the country, up for sale. The Dutch oil giant is currently in talks with India's Essar Oil Ltd regarding the sale of the Swedish plant along with is UK Stanlow and German Heide and Hamburg refineries.
In Uganda, local trader Victoria Candles announced a merger with Arabian Lubricants with plans to build a $22m, 60,000 litre/day lubricants plant on the outskirts of Kampala. And Ugandan competitor, Haas Petroleum, unveiled a further $800,000 investment strategy to market its new brands across East Africa. The plans include refurbishing and building service stations and marketing of its Atroil and Toperx engine oils.
Elsewhere, Brazil's Petrobras signed a deal with PetroChina to explore opportunities in ethanol production; mining specialists Bucyrus International has bought the world's third largest heavy earth-moving equipment manufacturers, Terex Corporation, for $1.3bn including 38 global facilities and 2,150 employees; and Caribbean distributor Sol Group announced its intentions to invest in expansion of its Shell-based business across the region.