By ANDY HOFFMAN
Varo Energy, a venture of oil trader Vitol Group and private
equity firm Carlyle Group, is buying storage and distribution
assets from Totals Swiss unit to add resources in the
land-locked Alpine country.
The transaction includes tank-storage facilities
in Eclepens near
Lausanne and Totals distribution and sales network for
domestic heating oil and diesel in Switzerland, Varo said in
a statement. The deal is scheduled to close later this year,
the company said, without disclosing financial details.
Swiss commodity trading houses including Vitol, the
worlds largest independent oil trader, are investing in
refineries, storage tanks and pipelines to wring more profit
from their trading operations amid a squeeze on margins due
to lower oil price volatility and increased competition.
The acquisition will give Varo the ability to deliver
directly to Swiss consumers including products coming
straight from our refineries, Andreas Fluetsch, Varo
Energys managing director, said in the e-mailed
Varo owns stakes in refineries, storage tanks and pipelines
in Germany, Austria and Switzerland including the Cressier refinery
in Neuchatel and is
aiming to become a significant new player in oil refining
and storage in northwest
. Major oil companies such
as Total of France are selling more than $300 billion of
assets, Marcel van Poecke, Managing Director of Carlyle
International Energy Partners, said in April.
Van Poecke was a founder of the refinery
firm Petroplus Holdings,
leaving it in 2006. Petroplus went into bankruptcy in 2012.
The Cressier refinery
was among five Petroplus
that were sold,
converted or closed.
Gunvor Group, a smaller competitor to Vitol with major
trading operations in Geneva, bought two former Petroplus
refineries located in Ingolstadt, Germany and Antwerp,
Belgium in 2012.
Vitol teamed with sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment
Council to offer $2.6 billion to buy Royal Dutch Shells
and fuel station assets
in Australia in February.