TonenGeneral to Buy Exxon’s Japan Refinery Unit for $3.9 Billion
Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK agreed to buy partner Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Japanese business in a $3.9 billion deal that may force the oil refiner to seek new alliances.
TonenGeneral will acquire 99 percent of Exxon Mobil Yugen Kaisha, which produces and sells fuels, using cash and bank loans, the Tokyo-based company said yesterday.
Refiners in Japan are grappling with rising operating costs after a 2010 order from the government to upgrade their oldest plants to extract more fuel from crude. While Japan’s consumption is declining due to a shrinking population and greater use of hybrid and electric autos, the transaction also reflects Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson’s strategy of focusing on oil exploration.
“TonenGeneral will struggle to recover their acquisition costs unless they find a strategic partner,” said Osamu Fujisawa, an independent energy economist in Tokyo. “There are no Japanese refiners that can partner with Tonen. So, it should be someone from the Middle East.”
Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, the source of almost 31 percent of Japan’s crude imports during the first nine months of 2011, owns a 15 percent stake in domestic refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu KK. The Abu Dhabi government owns a 21 percent stake in Japanese refiner Cosmo Oil Co.
TonenGeneral had 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion) at the end of 2011, according to presentation slides on its website, and its market value was $5.5 billion as of Jan. 27.
Reducing Its Exposure
For Exxon, the world’s largest energy company, the transaction is the biggest divestiture since the 1999 deal with Mobil Corp. that created the company. Exxon will see its stake in TonenGeneral decline to 22 percent from 50 percent and the Japanese refiner will retain exclusive rights to use its brands, according to statements