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Emo owner DCC hoping to expand presence of firm in Asia


Opportunity: Donal Murphy

Opportunity: Donal Murphy

Opportunity: Donal Murphy

Emo oil owner DCC is keen to expand its presence in Asia and has the financial firepower to do about £500m worth of acquisition deals in the current financial year, according to its chief executive Donal Murphy.

DCC, which also owns LPG brand Flogas, finalised its £120m acquisition of Shell's LPG business in Hong Kong and Macau, earlier this year giving it its first foothold in the region.

"We think about Asia as a medium-term opportunity," said Mr Murphy. "It's a super business in Hong Kong and Macau, but we really need to understand and learn about the markets in the neighbouring countries and we'll do that over a little bit of time."

Last year, DCC agreed the acquisition of a LPG distribution business called Hicksgas in the United States. That marked the company's first entry into the US LPG market. Hicksgas has a presence in 10 states, with its strongest positions being in Illinois, Indiana and Kansas.

The acquisition gave DCC a 0.6% share of the US LPG market, which is highly fragmented, with about 4,000 operators. The largest has about a 13% share with a couple of others holding about 8% each. The American LPG market is about nine times larger than France's, where DCC has a significant presence.

"We looked for an opportunity to enter that market for some time," Mr Murphy said. "It really gives us a presence in that large US propane market. We think that's a real platform for growth going forward. We look at that market as a real opportunity because of the scale of it and the nature of some of the players in it."

He said the vast majority of the LPG businesses in the United States are small, family-owned operations.

"Some of the larger players are typically energy infrastructure funds, and then you have a couple of mid-sized ones and after that you're down to small, local businesses," he said. "That's bread and butter stuff for DCC. Hopefully, there will be opportunities to do some bigger things."

Belfast Telegraph