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Shell May Exit Retail, Marketing in 21 Africa Nations

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By Fred Pals

April 1 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, wants to sell most of its downstream operations in 21 African countries, cutting back further in refining and marketing.

“While a number of options are being considered, the preferred outcome is the sale of most businesses in scope as going concerns,” the company said on its Web site today.

The Hague-based Shell is reviewing 15 percent of its refining capacity and is selling other retail assets in Latin America as well, putting a total of 35 percent of its current retail markets under review.

The company agreed on March 29 to sell its New Zealand fuel-retailing assets to Infratil Ltd. and the New Zealand government pension fund for NZ$695 million ($489.4 million) as part of a global focus on production and exploration.

“Early indications suggest there are a number of potential buyers interested in acquiring the businesses as going concerns,” Xavier le Mintier, executive vice-president of Shell Oil Products Africa, said in today’s statement. “We will now enter into a round of negotiations, with a view to securing the optimum outcome for our shareholders, customers and staff.”

Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser has targeted $1 billion in cost savings this year and will cut 2,000 more jobs by the end of next year to weather the economic slowdown, which has caused fuel inventories to swell in the U.S. and Europe.

Shell is reviewing its liquefied petroleum gas business in South Africa. All other downstream operations in that nation are excluded from the review, Shell said.

The other countries under review are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Cape Verde, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Madagascar, Mauritius and La Reunion.

–Editors: John Buckley, Reed Landberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Pals in Amsterdam at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at [email protected]

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