MILAN/LONDON Feb 14 The field of prospective
bidders for the Italian petrol station network belonging to
Total and Italian energy group Erg has
narrowed, leaving only a handful of interested parties
undertaking due diligence checks on the business, sources
familiar with the matter said.
A first round of bidding for the TotalErg joint venture
company drew to a close at the end of January and binding bids
for the network are now expected some time in early April, the
"It's a tough sale and things are moving slowly," one of the
sources said, adding that management presentations had yet to
API Anonima Petroli, the privately-owned oil
refiner which owns 2,600 stations of its own, is one of the
industrial players left in contention, along with Qatar
Petroleum, the sources said.
Rival operator Kuwait Petroleum International (Q8) has said
it is not in the running. "We monitor the market for
opportunities but in this phase we are not interested in the
asset," a Q8 spokesman said.
TotalErg declined to comment, while no one at API or Qatar
Petroleum could immediately be reached for comment.
TotalErg, which controls close to 2,600 service stations and
has a market share of some 11 percent, appointed HSBC and
Rothschild to sell the business that could be worth as much as
800 million euros ($845 million).
But Italy has around 21,000 service stations across the
country, almost twice the number in France and almost three
times that of Britain, and the sources said a new owner of
TotalErg might want to rationalise.
Private equity firms Advent and Apollo have also been
admitted to the final stages of bidding, the sources said, while
Carlyle Group and KKR decided to pull out.
Some of the sources said Advent and Apollo were considering
teaming up with API to prepare a joint offer.
A deal with API would create Italy's biggest service station
operator, ahead of Eni and Kuwait Petroleum
International which last year bought a network from Royal Dutch
Advent declined to comment while no one at Apollo was
immediately available to comment.
($1 = 0.9463 euros)
(Additional reporting by Clara Denina and Claudia Cristoferi;
Editing by Greg Mahlich)