April 4, 2012 / 12:30 PM / 8 years ago

TIMELINE-Petroplus: rapid rise and fall of a refiner

April 4 (Reuters) -

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Swiss-based Petroplus, once Europe’s largest independent oil refiner, crumbled as its mountain of debt became impossible to manage as its refining margins dived.

Here is a look back at the company’s fortunes:


* Dutchmen Marcel Van Poecke and Willem Willemstein found Petroplus International B.V. from a management buyout.


* Listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.


* Buys the Cressier refinery in Switzerland from Royal Dutch Sell for an estimated $131 million, and the Teesside refinery in the UK from PIP, a joint venture of ConocoPhillips and ICI plc for an estimated $110 million.


* Private equity firms Carlyle and Riverstone Holdings buy Petroplus, which delists from Euronext Amsterdam in March in a deal worth around $689 mln and backed with debt.

* The roughly five years to the first half of 2008 mark a golden age of refining with high margins on making oil products


* Thomas O’Malley recruited as chairman and chief executive. Karyn Ovelmen becomes chief financial officer.

* Marcel van Poecke and Willem Willemstein, co-founders and then co-CEOs of the company, resign.

* Petroplus completes the purchase of Belgian Refining Corporation (BRC) in Antwerp for an estimated $511 million.,

* Petroplus lists company on the Swiss exchange, raising $2.4 billion and making big profits for Carlyle and Riverstone.

* Proceeds from the float also used to repay debt. Company says it is debt-free by the year-end but it retains a revolving credit facility of up to $2 billion.


* Petroplus shares hit an all time intra-day high of 115.87 Swiss francs in July. BP’s refining margins data archive shows its global indicator margin peaked in the second quarter 2007.

* Petroplus buys Britain’s Coryton refinery and Germany’s Ingolstadt in deals backed primarily with debt. Coryton is purchased from BP for $1.4 billion, backed by $1.2 billion worth of bonds, while Ingolstadt is acquired from ExxonMobil for an estimated $627.5 million.

* Petroplus acknowledges that elimination of its refining margin hedging programme left it open to hefty gains or losses.

* Total financial debt at the end of 2007 stands at $1.33 billion, compared with the zero reported at the end of 2006.


* O’Malley replaced as CEO by American Robert Lavinia but remains chairman.

* Company buys the Petit-Couronne and Reichstett refineries in France from Shell for estimated $875 million.

* O’Malley sets up PBF Energy, a joint venture of Petroplus, private equity firms Blackstone and First Reserve, and becomes the CEO and chairman. It has bought 540,000 bpd of refining assets in the United States, according to its website. Petroplus later describes PBF Investments as its investment vehicle.

* Total financial debt at end of 2008 stands at $1.88 billion, up from $1.33 billion at the end of the previous year.


* Britain’s Teesside refinery fails to find a buyer and becomes the first European refinery to idle due to weak margins.

* The company posts a loss in the third quarter, for the first time since the initial public offering.

* Valuations of refining assets slide as margins crash. Petroplus books non-cash impairments from the Teesside refinery and the Antwerp processing facility of $110 million and $15 million respectively in the Q3, having booked non-cash impairments for Antwerp in the previous year of $87.5 million.

* The company renegotiates its revolving credit facility with its bank group, securing a maximum loan size of $2.11 billion.

* Total financial debt at end of 2009 stands at $1.83 billion, slightly under $1.88 billion a year before.


* In May, Petroplus taps equity market for $146 million via a share sale to invest in PBF Energy Partners to fund the acquisition of Delaware City refinery. It cuts its dividend.

* Posts Q1 estimated ‘clean’ net loss of $5 million, stripping out the effect of oil price changes on inventory.

* Petroplus’s least profitable plant at Reichstett fails to find a buyer, prompting a halt in operations as a refinery.

* Petroplus is forced to sell its stake in the PBF venture 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 Petroplus shares 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 chairman, succeeded by Patrick Monteiro de Barros.

* Financial debt at end 2010 totals $1.69 billion, down from previous year’s $1.83 billion.


* The company posts a profit in the Q4 2010, since which it has fallen back to loss. Analysts question its future.

* Group reports lower-than-expected first quarter loss, as it books a $250 million charge for the closure of Reichstett.

* Shares hit fresh lows after second quarter loss unveiled in August triggers covenant breach.

* In November, Petroplus receives covenant waiver from revolving credit facility (RCF) lenders, allowing it breathing space until the end of the first quarter of 2012. Company unveils greater-than-expected third quarter clean net losses.

* In November, PBF announces an intended IPO.

* Coryton runs at reduced capacity in early December.

* On Dec. 27, Petroplus says lenders have frozen about $1 billion credit facility it 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, shuts Petit Couronne, Antwerp and Cressier refineries as crude buying line dries up. The shares trade at around 1.74 Swiss francs.

* According to the Swiss stock exchange, O’Malley’s stake in Petroplus is now under 3 percent.


* Union groups in Europe call for government help to prop up ailing refineries in a bid to protect jobs.

* Lenders freeze remaining credit facility on Jan. 5.

* Company’s most profitable refineries Ingolstadt and Coryton running at half capacity by Jan. 10.

* Temporary agreement reached with lenders on Jan. 11.

* Swiss exchange announces suspension of Petroplus shares on Jan. 23. Company files for insolvency protection the next day.

* Administrator of company’s UK assets PwC says it aims to keep Coryton refinery open.

* Ingostadt refinery is forced to close after it is unable to pay for crude oil.

* Coryton secures a tolling agreement from former Petroplus owner Marcel Van Poecke, together with Morgan Stanley and KKR in mid February.

* Gunvor buys Antwerp refinery in March, analysts say location on Europe’s Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp oil hub means it is likely to be converted to storage.

* Petroplus announces plans to delist from May 11, 2012. A Swiss court grants administrators for Petroplus another six months to restructure its Swiss plant’s debt and sell it. (Reporting by Zaida Espana, Simon Falush and Ikuko Kurahone; Editing by David Cutler)

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