Regional

UAE’s Mubadala in talks with potential bidders for Spain’s Cepsa

Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil trader, is among firms considering bids for Spanish oil company Cepsa Trading SA as its owner weighs alternatives to an initial public offering planned for later this year, according to people familiar with the matter. Cepsa, owned by Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co., could be valued at around 10 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in a sale or IPO, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Investment firms including CVC Capital Partners and Blackstone Group LP as well as industry players may be interested in part or all of the company, they said.

No final decisions have been made as Mubadala continues to prepare for the listing, the people said. Discussions are at an early stage, they said. A spokesman for Mubadala referred to a statement that Musabbeh al-Kaabi, the head of the firm’s petroleum and petrochemicals platform, made in a March interview with English-language UAE newspaper, the National. In it, Kaabi said they’re exploring options for Cepsa including a listing in Spain or bringing in a strategic partner. The spokesman declined to comment on Vitol’s interest or any other details.

Representatives for Vitol, CVC and Blackstone declined to comment.

With oil trading profits declining, the biggest players in the space are looking to replicate private equity firms by using their energy-industry expertise to buy and reshape businesses before selling them for a profit. Vitol’s Australian fuel and refining business Viva Energy Australia Ltd. sold shares in an IPO last month.

Mubadala is seeking about 3 billion euros from a stake sale, people familiar with the matter have said. That could make Cepsa’s IPO the largest in Europe this year after the 4.2 billion-euro listing of Siemens Healthineers AG, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Still, some IPOs have struggled this year, which could make a sale to a bidder an attractive option.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 16, 2018, on page 4.

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