ELPE buys BP’s Greek operations

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), the country’s largest oil refinery, said yesterday it has agreed to purchase the operations of British Petroleum (BP) in Greece for 359 million euros, boosting its presence in the domestic market. ELPE said it will acquire BP’s 1,200 gas stations and 170,000-cubic-meter storages facilities in a deal that also includes taking on 40 million euros of debt. «This agreement boosts the group’s position in the Greek retail market and will, in parallel, create significant synergies,» said Hellenic Petroleum’s chairman, Efthymios Christodoulou, in a bourse filing. BP workers will not lose their jobs, according to the statement. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, foresees a transitional period for the transfer of BP’s gas station network and brand. BP will retain control of its jet fuel, lubricants and solar energy activities in Greece. ELPE operates a 1,245-gas station network in Greece, through its subsidiary EKO. It is also present in 11 countries, including the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Shares in ELPE jumped 4.0 percent on the Athens bourse yesterday to 7.28 euros, before news of the deal was made public. The broader market declined 0.66 percent. A BP spokesman said in London the deal is part of the British company’s ongoing program of divestment, targeting asset sales of around $2 billion to $3 billion this year. Earlier this week, Indonesian state oil company Pertamina said it will buy BP’s stake in the West Java field for $280 million. BP can use the money from these divestments to invest in other things, the spokesman added, according to news reports. Greece’s retail fuel market is highly fragmented. It consists of 21 companies, with no single entity having a market share above 20 percent in terms of gas station numbers, according to a recent report from the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research.