Turkish LPG Seller Ipragaz to Start Retail Unit, Seeks Targets

Ipragaz AS, Turkey’s first liquefied petroleum-gas distributor, plans to start a fuel retail unit and is seeking acquisition targets to support domestic expansion.

Ipragaz is working with consultants on a brand name for the unit and operations will start next year, Chief Executive Officer Selim Siper said in Istanbul where the company is based. It will be the first LPG company in Turkey to sell gasoline and diesel, he said in an interview.

“We need to invest about $50 million to have an initially reasonable network size in the retail fuel business,” Siper said yesterday.

More than 40 companies including OMV AG, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and OAO Lukoil already operate in Turkey’s fuel retail industry. Ipragaz, which had sales of about $1.2 billion last year and is owned by closely held Dutch energy company SHV Holdings NV, is also looking to snap up rivals or assets.

“There are more than 70 LPG retail distributors in the country and some of them may be selling assets,” the CEO said. Acquiring a company or assets could take more than a year to complete, Siper said.

He declined to say whether BP’s planned sale of its global LPG bottles and tank filling business, including operations in Turkey, was of interest.

Ipragaz was the fifth-biggest seller of LPG in Turkey last year with a 7.8 percent market share, according to the energy market regulator’s website.

LNG Business

Ipragaz also plans to apply for licenses from the Ankara-based energy regulator for wholesale electricity sales and renewable energy production, he said.

SHV is set to start a liquefied natural gas, or LNG, business in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

That follows Ipragaz’s “successful” LNG sales of 100,000 tons a year in Turkey, said Siper, who is also in charge of SHV’s operations in China, India, Pakistan, Hungary and the Philippines.

“SHV is setting up a company in Brussels for that purpose,” Siper said. “SHV will adopt Ipragaz’s LNG sales model for the new business.”

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