Wednesday, September 30

Petronas Lubricants CEO not ruling out IPO in growth drive

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MILAN: Petronas Lubricants International, the wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia’s oil giant Petronas, does not rule out a stock market listing at some point as it targets growth in mature as well as emerging markets, its chief executive said.

“We don’t see (a listing) short term but we do not exclude it in the future,” Giuseppe D’Arrigo told Reuters in an interview.

Petronas Lubricants International (PLI), which makes fluids and oil products for the automotive sector, operates in 23 countries with more than 2,100 workers. In 2015 it had sales of around US$2 billion.

D’Arrigo, an Italian who took over as CEO earlier this year, said the group aimed to double its business in Europe where it would be investing between US$250 million and 300 million over the next five years.

“Europe is basically a flat market but it’s very interesting for us and we believe we can extract value even in more mature markets where our growth is in double digits,” he said in a telephone interview.

Europe, one of PLI’s main markets, generates 28 per cent of the company’s total volumes. Italy is the biggest market, accounting for 48 per cent of European sales.

In a factory outside Turin, the company makes the lubricants and fluids that are tested and used in Formula One racing by the world champion Mercedes team.

The Kuala Lumpur-based company is not interested in growing in downstream distribution businesses in Europe, such as petrol stations, but it does not rule out investing in the chemical and refining sectors.

D’Arrigo said the group had worked with Italian oil major Eni (ENI.MI) for several years and had partnership deals with the company’s chemical unit Versalis in the rubber segment.

Asked if the company was interested in buying a stake in Versalis, he said he could not say where the partnership agreement they had might end up.

“It’s clear we are here and we will look at our options in case there is interest,” he said.

Eni has been in talks with US fund SK Capital to sell a majority stake in Versalis.

But earlier this month Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said a new tender for the stake would be launched if no agreement was reached with SK Capital in the next three to four weeks. — Reuters