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newsday.co.tt: Total signals bid for Esso

Thursday, May 24 2007

Total, a French firm, has reportedly made a bid to acquire Esso’s Caribbean operations.

French integrated energy giant Total, the fourth largest oil company in the world, is bidding to purchase Esso’s Caribbean operations, including those in Jamaica, for a sum in excess of US$400M the Business Observer has said.

Last week, Total’s managing director in Jamaica, Luke Mache, was non-committal when he was contacted for a comment. “That is a matter for head office in France,” he told the Business Observer. “Local subsidiaries do not comment on acquisitions of this nature, but if you do hear anything further, do let me know.”

However, industry sources insisted yesterday that the French firm was looking to extend its presence in Jamaica after snapping up 18 of Roy D’Cambre’s National gas stations for US$11M in 2004.

“It is difficult to see another player capable of outbidding Total for Esso’s Caribbean operations,” said a leading Jamaican pump retailer. “As far as I understand, Total will be picking up some 200 gas stations in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Haiti, the Eastern Caribbean and the Bahamas for US$400M. A player like Simpson Oil may partner with one of the larger operators and throw in a bid, but there is no doubt that Total is seeing something in the Caribbean that other operators are not.”

A year after it acquired D’Cambre’s National Fuels, Total placed a bid for Shell’s Jamaican operations, losing out to Joey Issa’s Cool Oasis partnership with the Neal & Massy Group.

Esso, with 39 stations (of which it owns 31) currently has 23 percent of the local petroleum retail market. Last year, Esso’s Earnings Before Interest, Taxes Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) in the Caribbean was in excess of US$23M.

Petroleum industry analysts told the Business Observer that if Total were to be successful in its bid for Esso, the French company would undoubtedly become the number two player in Jamaica.

(Jamaica Observer)

http://www.newsday.co.tt/businessday/0,57690.html

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