Oil refiner in Cyprus buy

Oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum yesterday agreed to take over UK oil major BP’s retail and other inland fuel businesses in Cyprus for an undisclosed sum, less than a week after it expanded to Montenegro with the acquisition of a Montenegrin oil company. The BP business to be acquired by Hellenic Petroleum includes a retail network of 70 petrol stations, a direct and wholesale fuel concern, an LPG storage and bottling plant, and a 65 percent stake in the Superlube lubricants blending factory. Hellenic Petroleum competed with Austrian oil company OMV and Lukoil for the retail business. The Russian oil giant is already active in Cyprus with a chain of 16 outlets. BP will continue to maintain a presence in Cyprus via its marine, aviation and lubricant marketing businesses. Athanasios Karachalios, managing director of Hellenic Petroleum, said the latest acquisition allows the oil refiner to establish a presence in Cyprus and also provides a platform for expanding in the region. BP’s retail business, BP Cyprus Ltd, sells some 500 million liters of fuel annually, giving it a market share of about 35 percent. Hellenic Petroleum is due to keep on two-thirds of the company’s 70-strong work force while the remaining 40 will be transferred to BP concern, BP Eastern Mediterranean Ltd. The acquisition is subject to Cypriot regulatory approvals. Hellenic Petroleum last week signed an agreement for a 54.35 percent stake in Yugopetrol for 65 million euros, giving it a springboard for expanding into neighboring Bosnia and Kosovo. The government in May accepted a joint bid from the Latsis group and Lukoil for a 23.17 percent share in Hellenic Petroleum. It is hoping the strategic alliance will strengthen the oil refiner’s presence in the Balkans.