Glencore pips Sinopec to buy Chevron's South African assets

LONDON (Reuters) - Commodities trader and miner Glencore has swooped in to replace China’s Sinopec as the buyer of Chevron’s South African and Botswana assets after reaching a deal with local investors.

The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured in front of the company's headquarters in Baar, Switzerland, July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The assets include a 100,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery in Cape Town, a lubricants plant in Durban as well as 820 petrol stations and other oil storage facilities. It also includes 220 convenience stores across South Africa and Botswana.

In its statement on Friday, Glencore said it had agreed to buy Chevron’s 75 percent stake in its South African subsidiary and its Botswana interests for a combined $973 million. The remaining 25 percent stake will stay with a consortium of Black Economic Empowerment shareholders and an employee trust.

An industry source familiar with Glencore’s mergers and acquisitions activities said the company was looking to bring in a partner.

A spokesman for Chevron said the company does not comment on commercial matters. Sinopec did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Glencore stepped in after local shareholders exercised pre-emption rights following delays to the Sinopec deal.

In March, Chevron announced that it had agreed the sale of its assets to China’s largest refiner Sinopec, for nearly $1 billion. As of May, the deal had been under review by South Africa’s Economic Development ministry.

Glencore was among the bidders for the stake last year along with oil major Total and rival trading house Gunvor.


The stake was of keen interest to many oil traders as the retail network is one of the biggest in South Africa and it provides access to strategic storage in Saldanha Bay on the southwestern coast.

Chevron along with other oil majors have announced a flurry of downstream sales in the last few years to trim costs after global oil prices slumped in 2014.

Chevron, which has had a presence in South Africa for more than a century, announced the sale in January 2016.

Nimbler oil trading firms have snapped up the unwanted oil refineries and retail stations particularly in industrializing nations such as South Africa where young populations and a fast-growing middle class are expected to boost fuel demand.

Glencore has shifted in the last year from shedding interests during the 2015-2016 commodities downturn to asset-buying since the rebound in prices.

The deal, which will include Glencore retaining Chevron’s local management team and workforce, will be funded using existing cash resources and is expected to close in mid-2018.

“Glencore intends to manage its overall oil asset portfolio to ensure that, including this transaction, net additional capital investment is limited to less than $500 million over the next 12 months,” it said.

If the deal closes, this would be Glencore’s first refining asset. It began expanding into downstream oil in May after setting up a retail franchise in Mexico.

Additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Dmitry Zdhannikov in London; editing by Keith Weir and Elaine Hardcastle