Australia's United Petroleum considers potential sale-sources

SYDNEY, July 25 Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:14am EDT

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SYDNEY, July 25 (Reuters) - Australian petrol and convenience store retailer United Petroleum is exploring a potential sale or a joint venture of the business that has a value of about A$1 billion ($921 million) including debt, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

United Petroleum, which specializes in retail and wholesale fuel markets, ethanol manufacture and convenience stores, has kicked off the process after receiving a number of approaches from international companies, one of the people said.

The privately-owned business, which employs more than 2,500 people, is working with KPMG Corporate Finance, the people added. The potential deal comes after private equity firm Archer Capital sold fuel distributor and retailer Ausfuel in February to Puma Energy, a unit of Dutch independent commodity trader Trafigura Beheer B.V. Local media put the deal value at as much as A$650 million.

That deal stimulated interest in the sector, with United Petroleum subsequently attracting interest from international operators.

"United is exploring possibilities for a strategic alliance with international parties to fast track the expansion of the United business," a person familiar with the process said.

The source declined to name the international companies that had made the approaches.

United Petroleum and KPMG did not comment. Sources declined to be identified as the process is confidential.

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