Belfast Telegraph

Irish petrol station giant DCC buys Esso network in Norway

By John Mulligan

Diversified Irish group DCC has agreed to pay €273m (£234m) to buy Esso's retail petrol station network in Norway. DCC owns and operates a subsidiary in Northern Ireland.

The network is the third-largest in Norway, selling about 20% of retail volumes.

The acquisition expands DCC's forecourt business and will give it a total of about 1,000 retail petrol stations in Europe once the deal closes.

It will also supply fuel to about 2,000 dealer-owned stations.

The company operates two terminals in Belfast, importing oil and LPG into Northern Ireland.

DCC already owns networks in Sweden, Denmark and France.

The FTSE 100 company is also the largest supplier of home heating oil in the UK, supplies gas in France, distributes electronic equipment and has a waste management arm, as well as a healthcare products and services business.

Its shares rose more than 6% to £68.15 on news of the deal and a strong trading update. Davy Stockbrokers raised its price target for the shares to £80 from £75, arguing that DCC's energy division was positioned as a "preferred acquirer" of retail assets from oil majors in Europe.

Esso's retail petrol station network in Norway includes a national network of 142 company-operated sites, 15 of which are unmanned, and has contracts to supply 108 Esso-branded, dealer-owned stations.

Since December 2015, the convenience retail element of the company-operated sites has been handled by NorgesGruppen, the largest grocery retailer and wholesaler in Norway, under a long-term agreement.

DCC, whose chief executive is Tommy Breen, also bought its forecourt operations in France from Esso.

In 2014, it agreed to pay €106m (£91m) for 274 unmanned Esso stations there, as well as 48 Esso-branded motorway concessions.

Last year, DCC agreed to pay about €40m (£34m) to buy a Danish fuel business from Aliementation Couche-Tard, which owns Topaz in Ireland. The Danish business included 139 petrol stations. In 2013, DCC agreed to buy Qstar, a Swedish unmanned retail petrol station company.

Mr Breen said the acquisition of the Norwegian chain was a "material step" in building DCC's petrol station business in Europe and that the firm is "ambitious" regarding continued expansion.

In its interim management statement, DCC said its group operating profit for the third quarter ending in December was "strongly ahead" of the same period in the prior financial year.

Belfast Telegraph