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Sunday Business Post (Ireland): Hot competition for Shell’s Irish business

Sunday Business Post (Ireland): Hot competition for Shell’s Irish business

Sunday 26 June 2005

By Neil Callanan

Maxol, Petrogas and Statoil are among the companies believed to have considered buying the Irish business of Shell, according to retail sources.

Shell said this weekend that it was in talks with a number of prospective buyers for its retail service station network, supply and distribution assets and facilities and its commercial fuels, lubricants and marine businesses.

Shell is keeping its Corrib natural gas project as well as its aviation, bitumen and chemicals businesses.

One retail source said that Tesco had been an aggressive bidder for some service stations that had come on the market. The supermarket chain could be interested if the successful bidder for Shell’s operations decided to sell on some of the service station network.

A spokeswoman for Shell said she was not in a position to confirm whether Maxol, Statoil and Petrogas were interested in all or part of the businesses being sold. Shell expects to make a decision on its preferred purchaser in the coming weeks.

“For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we are not able to disclose these parties, or to discuss this matter in more detail at this time,” Dr Frank Bergin, director of Shell Ireland, said last Friday. “If we do decide to proceed with a sale, it would be Shell’s intention to sell the business as a going concern.”

The service station market in Ireland is in a state of flux at the moment.

Esso has sold off a large part of its network already and is expected to confirm in the near future that it will be divesting of more service stations.

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