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Shell to sell Greek retail assets to Motor Oil

Reuters India

Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:24pm IST

* Motor Oil to buy Shell’s retail assets for 219 mln euros

* About 700 Shell gas stations to change hands

* Motor Oil to separately buy Shell’s liquid gas assets

ATHENS, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it will sell its Greek service stations network to local refiner Motor Oil (MORr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research) as it seeks more profitable upstream operations.

Motor Oil will buy about 700 Shell gas stations, 49 percent of Shell’s aviation fuel trading company and storage facilities of about 137,000 cubic metres for a total 219.1 million euros ($322.7 million), the Greek company said in a bourse filing.

In a separate deal, Motor Oil will buy Shell’s liquid gas operation for 26.5 million euros.

Shell is divesting refinery capacity assets and service stations to focus on large, sophisticated facilities in high growth markets.

Motor Oil bought Shell’s service stations to lessen its dependence on refining operations, which provide the bulk of its profits.

“Motor Oil bought the asset at a good price, especially considering that Shell’s gas stations have the highest throughput in the Greek market,” said George Katsanos, an analyst at HSBC.

Shell is the second oil major to sell its Greek fuel retail operations this year. In June, BP Plc (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) sold about 1,200 gas stations and oil storage facilities of 170,000 cubic metres for 359 million euros to Hellenic Petroleum (HEPr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research), Greece’s biggest refiner.

The Motor Oil-Shell deal consolidates Greece’s fragmented fuel retail market. Shell and Motor Oil’s service station unit Avin Oil have a combined market share of 22 percent, compared with about 30 percent for Hellenic.

The service stations sold will keep the Shell brand. (Reporting by Harry Papachristou; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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