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Is United Petroleum set for a $1bn float or partial sale?

United Petroleum is marketing a public float or 50% sale of the company and may forge ahead with a public listing on the Australian Stock Exchange later in 2015, according to media reports, while higher valuations are being seen in the petrol retail market.

According to Fairfax’s Business Spectator online, the move by the leading independent petrol wholesaler and petrol convenience store operator appears to be a re-run of its October 2013 push to sell all or part of the company, when Malaysia’s Petronas, Puma Energy and Caltex Australia were touted as potential candidates.

Then, media reports said that United’s owners Eddie Hirsch and Avi Silver looked at a trade sale, but talks fell down on price, estimated at around $1 billion.

Advisers working on a float of United Petroleum are believed to be heading to Hong Kong this week to market the $1 billion business to potential investors.

United Petroleum supplies a national network of around 300 franchised and company-owned petrol stations across Australia and operates fuel import terminals in Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

United has substantial real estate interests and rumours persist that it may hive off its petrol operations and real estate assets into separate entities.

One obstacle may be getting approval for any deal from the competition regulator, the ACCC.

United Petroleum was established in 1993 with the opening of a chain of petrol stations / convenience stores in South Australia and quickly expanded operations into Victoria, NSW, ACT, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

United Petroleum were contacted several times for a response to the Fairfax report, while a senior executive said he could not comment for legal reasons.

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