ALGIERS (Reuters) - U.S. based private investment firm Colony Capital LLC’s deal to buy a controlling stake in Libya’s European refiner Tamoil is off, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) chairman said on Monday.
“There is no deal,” Mohamed Layas, chairman of Libya’s state investment arm, told Reuters by telephone from the north African OPEC member country.
Layas added in brief remarks that the LIA planned to produce a report by the end of March about its management over the past six months of the $50 billion in assets it holds.
Colony said last year it agreed to buy the stake, in a deal that valued the refining and marketing firm at 4 billion euros ($5.9 billion), marking the second major foray by private equity into the European oil refining business in recent years.
Tamoil owns more than 3,000 service stations in Europe, concentrated in Italy, and oil refineries in Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Germany, Colony said last year.
In June, Colony said in a statement that the sale also included Tamoil holding company Oilinvest and that the Libyan government would retain a 35 percent stake in the ongoing group.
Asked if the deal was still going ahead, Layas said: “No, that’s something that was discussed a long time ago with Tamoil, between Tamoil and Colony. To my information there is no deal anymore. This is not new.”
Asked if this meant Tamoil remained the property of LIA, he replied: “Yes.”
State-owned Libyan National Oil Corporation said in a statement last week it had transferred ownership of Oilinvest to the LIA, whose creation was announced by Tripoli last year.
There was no immediate word from Los Angeles-based Colony.
Some other private equity firms, which traditionally borrow huge sums as part of takeover deals, are finding it increasingly difficult to close them because of the global credit crunch.
Colony, founded in 1991, focuses on real estate-related assets and operating companies.
Its deal with Libya followed another large private equity investment into the European refining sector.
In 2005, funds managed by Carlyle Group CYL.UL and Riverstone Holdings bought Dutch-based Petroplus PPHN.S and in 2006 they floated the independent refiner in Switzerland, making a substantial profit.
Libyan authorities said last year the LIA had been created to invest mainly outside Libya on a commercial basis to help diversify the economy and maximize returns.
The LIA receives annual allocations of oil revenue approved by Libya’s cabinet, known as the General Popular Committee.
“We’re preparing a report about all the activities of the LIA and I hope by the end of March we’ll be in a position to provide all the information about the last six months,” Layas said.
Reiterating previous official statements, Layas said that the value of the holdings of the LIA and its affiliates and subsidiaries stood at $50 billion.
Reporting by William Maclean; editing by James Jukwey