LONDON Dec 30 Swiss Petroplus
struggles to keep its refineries across Europe running
after aggressive acquisitions by former chairman Thomas O'Malley
up to 2007 have given way to the current credit crunch, economic
slowdown and financial crisis.
Before refining margins started falling sharply after the
peak in 2008, Petroplus accounted for about 6 percent of
Europe's total refining capacity.
Now the company holds 4.4 percent of the total, still the
biggest for an independent, specialist refiner in Europe.
* Petroplus International B.V. founded.
* Listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.
* Buys the Cressier refinery in Switzerland from Royal Dutch
Sell for an estimate $131 million and the Teesside
refinery in the UK from PIP for an estimate $110 million.
* Buys the Coryton refinery in the UK from BP for
* It takes private and delisted from Euronext in Amsterdam.
* Recruits Thomas O'Malley as chairman and chief executive.
Karyn Ovelmen becomes chief financial officer.
Raised in a working-class New York neighbourhood,
O'Malley's strategy of buying refineries, revamping them and
selling them on at a profit was very effective in the United
O'Malley had held top positions at a number of oil concerns
including Premcor, which he sold to Valero, and Tosco
Corporation in the United States.
* Marcel van Poecke and Willem Willemstein, co-founders and
then co-CEOs of the company, resign. Van Poecke later sets up
AtlasInvest, which now holds stakes in such assets as the
Wilhelmshaven refinery in Germany, trader North Sea Group and
publisher Energy Intelligence.
* The roughly five years to the first half of 2008
dubbed "the golden age of refining," when the profit from making
fuels such as gasoline and diesel was high.
* Petroplus completes the purchase of Belgian Refining
Corporation (BRC) in Antwerp for an estimated $511 million.
* In November, Petroplus Holdings goes public in
* Buys the Petit Couronne and Reichestett refineries in
France from Shell for estimated $875 million and Ingolstadt in
Germany from ExxonMobil for estimated $623 million.
* Petroplus shares hit an all time intra-day high of 115.87
swiss franc in July. BP's refining margins data archive shows
its global indicator margin peaked in the second quarter 2007.
* In July, Brent crude hits a record high above $147 a
barrel then makes a free fall to $36.20 in December.
* O'Malley sets up PBF Energy, a joint venture of Petroplus,
private equity firms Blackstone and First Reserve, and became
the CEO and chairman. It has bought 540,000 bpd of refining
assets in the United States, according to its website.
* Britain's Teeside refinery fails to find a buyer and
becomes the first European refinery to idle due to weak margins.
* Industry veteran Jean-Paul Vettier, formerly at France's
Total, named as the chief executive of Petroplus.
* The company posts a loss in the third quarter, for the
first time since the initial public offering.
* In May, Petroplus offered shares at 17.50 swiss francs. It
cuts its dividend.
* The world's top independent oil trader Vitol buys the
Antwerp Batumin plant from Petroplus for about $25 million.
* It posted net profit in the second quarter and net loss in
the third quarter.
* The Reichstett refinery, Petroplus' least profitable
plant, fails to find a buyer. It says the plant would cease to
operate as an oil refinery.
* Despite some recovery in refining margins, Petroplus'
French refineries were hit by the marathon strike over French
President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform plans.
* Petroplus, an original PBF partner, sells its stake in the
JV at the end of September, four months after the company said
it would use $125 million raised in a rights issue to fund its
portion of a PBF acquisition.
* As of October, O'Malley holds 2.5 million Petroplus
shares, then worth $31 million or just a tenth of their 2007
peak, when the company was valued at $12 billion.
* In December, Petroplus announces the retirement of
O'Malley as the chairman of the board of directors.
* The company posts a profit in the fourth quarter 2010,
since which it has fallen back to loss. Analysts question its
* In November, says it has received consent from its
revolving credit facility (RCF) lenders at the end of October
granting the group a covenant waiver until the end of the first
quarter of 2012.
* In November, PBF announces an intended IPO.
* On Dec. 27, Petroplus says lenders had frozen about $1
billion in borrowing allowances the company relies on to buy
crude oil. Shares tumble by more than 40 percent in the day.
* It says on Dec. 30 it obtained a provisional financing
agreement with its lenders. The shares trade around 1.74 swiss
* According to the Swiss stock exchange, O'Malley's stake in
Petroplus is now under 3 percent.