| LAUSANNE, April 2
LAUSANNE, April 2 Oil majors have put up for
sale assets worth more than $300 billion and more could come as
shareholders press for lower capital expenditure and higher
dividends, according to a major private equity player investing
Marcel van Poecke, managing director at private equity giant
Carlyle's fund International Energy Partners, which
specialises on European downstream investments, told a
conference he saw the biggest buyers' market of his career as
oil majors continue splitting oil production from refining.
"I've been in this business for 25-30 years. I've never seen
the market with so many good assets for sale," he told the FT
Earlier this year, Carlyle made a surprise foray into
Europe's struggling refining sector by teaming up with Swiss
trading house Vitol to co-own refining, storage and
distribution assets in Switzerland and Germany.
Van Poecke said he saw other private equity firms repeating
such deals around the world as more majors will follow in the
footsteps of U.S. firms ConocoPhillips, Murphy Oil
and Hess Corp, which have either spun off
refining or are undergoing business restructuring.
"Investors say 'We don't need you to be an integrated
company' ...They say: 'We can buy BP for upstream and
Valero for downstream. And we will create our own oil
company'," said Van Poecke.
Companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have
embarked on a capital diet after years of record spending on
huge offshore or U.S. shale projects.
They are now promising to return more money to shareholders
through dividends and share buy-backs.
BP is selling assets worth around $40 billion and Shell
plans to sell some $15 billion worth of assets.
"It is the buyers' market," said Van Poecke.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Jason Neely)