UPDATE 1-Vitol, Carlyle's Varo Energy buy Total Swiss diesel businesses

Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:36am EDT

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LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - Vitol and the Carlyle Group's joint venture Varo Energy has bought French oil company Total's Swiss diesel and heating oil storage and distribution businesses, the company said on Thursday.

The move gives midstream energy firm Varo direct access to customers for its existing oil refining investments in Switzerland and Germany, as the sector struggles with weak margins across the continent.

"Adding business units which will allow us to distribute our products directly to the end consumer is an important milestone for Varo Energy's growth and development," managing director Andreas Flütsch said in a statement.

The assets bought from Total include tank storage facilities in Eclépens near Lausanne and the French oil major's entire customer distribution and sales network for domestic heating oil and diesel in Switzerland, the statement said.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Varo Energy already owns the 68,000 barrel per day Cressier refinery in Switzerland and a 45 percent stake in the Bayernoil refinery in Germany. It is primarily active in northern Germany, Bavaria, and along the river Rhine, as well as in Switzerland.

European refining margins have been hard hit by falling demand and competition from the United States and Asia, forcing many companies to look for ways to streamline their businesses or to shut plants outright.

Varo Energy is a joint venture between Vitol, the world's largest independent oil trader, and the Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest alternative asset managers. (Reporting by David Sheppard; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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