Sasol Says Mulling Bid for Chevron’s South African Assets

  • Chevron selling stake in Cape Town refinery, filling stations
  • South Africa probing offer by state fuel fund for the assets

Sasol Ltd., a South African fuel producer, said it’s “assessing the opportunity” of making an offer for Chevron Corp.’s assets in the region, including a refinery and filling stations.

“Sasol is working with Chevron and its advisers in this regard,” Alex Anderson, a spokesman for the Johannesburg-based company, said in an e-mail on Thursday.

Chevron put its 75 percent stake in the South African unit up for sale in January as part of a three-year divestment program announced in 2014. The Chevron unit operates the 110,000-barrel-a-day Cape Town refinery, a lubricant plant in the eastern port city of Durban and markets its Caltex-branded products through more than 845 filling stations, according to its website. The sale may fetch about $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said in March.

"It will interesting to see if Chevron will sell the assets separately or as one," Mohamed Kharva, a research analyst at Nedbank Group Ltd., said in an e-mailed response to questions. "The refinery is not their main focus, in my opinion. They’re after the downstream assets so that they can grow their retail footprint."

Sasol shares fell 1.5 percent to 391.4 rand at 11:44 a.m. in Johannesburg.

Cost Savings

Sasol’s interest in what represents about a fifth of South Africa’s oil-refining capacity comes as the company implements programs to save 75 billion rand ($5.1 billion) through 2018 following the slump in commodity prices. 

Fuel in the country is distributed to about 200 depots, 4,600 filling stations and 10,000 direct consumers, who are mostly farmers, according to the South African Petroleum Industry Association website.

South Africa’s Department of Energy said on Thursday it will investigate a bid by one of its own entities for the Chevron assets after the Strategic Fuel Fund failed to seek approval for its offer from the minister. The opposition Democratic Alliance said it plans to ask the National Treasury to block a potential deal involving the Strategic Fuel Fund as the money could be better spent on boosting economic growth.

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