San Miguel Corporation will take-over Exxon Mobil for 63% Stake- Oil & Gas expansion

San Miguel Corp. (SMC), the largest Philippine food and Drinks Company, will buy three Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) units in Malaysia for $610 million in its first purchase of overseas oil assets and plans to pursue bigger acquisitions.

Diversifying San Miguel Corporation has expanded its footprint in the regional oil industry with an agreement to acquire the downstream petroleum businesses of American multinational oil and gas company Exxon Mobil Corporation.

The company that controls the brewer of San Miguel beer will acquire Exxon’s entire 65 percent stake in Esso Malaysia Bhd. (ESSO) for about $206 million, or 3.50 ringgit per share, according to a filing to the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange yesterday (August 17, 2011). San Miguel will also buy all of unlisted ExxonMobil Malaysia Sdn. and Exxon Mobil Borneo Sdn. for a combined $403 million, the filing showed.

“This acquisition provides us with a unique opportunity to expand our participation in the regional oil and gas sector,” San Miguel President Ramon Ang said in an e-mailed statement. “We will focus our efforts not just on upgrading refinery capabilities, but expanding reach into underserved areas in the fuels market.”

The group started as a brewer in 1890, eight years before the Philippines’ declared independence from Spain, and has been expanding into other industries to boost return on equity to three times the 7 percent level it used to earn from food and drinks alone. San Miguel owns a majority stake in Manila-listed Petron Corp. (PCOR), which accounts for about a third of the nation’s oil market.

Industry sources privy to the transaction said SMC had finalized a deal to buy a controlling stake in at least three Malaysian subsidiaries of Exxon Mobil involved in oil refining and distribution.

The purchase was concluded following a bidding process that had taken place in the last two months.

The Manila-based company has expanded into refining, telecommunications and mining to diversify from its traditional food and beverage businesses. San Miguel, the majority shareholder in the Philippines’ largest oil company, is planning “bigger” acquisitions in the region and is looking at energy assets in Indonesia and Australia, Ang said in a mobile-phone text-message.

The offer price of 3.50 ringgit per share represents a 29 percent discount to Esso Malaysia’s closing price of 4.95 ringgit in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The stock jumped 14 percent ahead of the announcement.

Exxon’s Downstream Assets

Esso Malaysia operates gasoline stations and one refinery in Port Dickson with a capacity of 88,000 barrels a day, San Miguel said. It reported an 85 percent jump in profit to 268.6 million ringgit last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Exxon Mobil’s Malaysian downstream business is attractive to San Miguel given that there is plenty of room to move up the value chain by upgrading refinery capabilities,” Ang said. “Our plan would be to upgrade the Port Dickson refinery so that it can make use of a wider variety of crudes and produce higher- value products.”

The takeovers would provide San Miguel with downstream interests including seven fuel distribution terminals and a network of 560 service stations. San Miguel dropped 1.3 percent to 125 pesos in Manila trading yesterday, before the acquisition announcement.

It is a deal seen directly benefiting SMC’s oil refining unit Petron Corp. as Exxon, through subsidiary Esso Malaysia Berhad, has a refinery in Port Dickson that processes an average of 45,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It also manages a major portion of ExxonMobil’s network of 560 Esso and Mobil service stations in Malaysia.

Exxon Mobil is the parent company of Esso and Mobil Malaysia and also owns a 65-percent stake in Esso Malaysia Bhd which is listed on the Bursa Malaysia.

“It gives SMC a bigger retail footprint in the region,” one source said, adding that San Miguel was also attracted to Esso because of the high grade and capability of its oil refining plant.

Demands in Malaysia is higher

Although Malaysia itself has a population equivalent to only about a third of the Philippines’ 100 million people, the retail market in Malaysia consumes much more than in the Philippines, the source explained.

Petron earlier announced a $1.8-billion (roughly P81-billion) investment to further upgrade its 180,000-barrel-a-day oil refinery. This Refinery Expansion Project (RMP-2) to be completed in 2014 was cited as a strategic project not only for the oil company but also for the whole country because it would help lessen the Philippines’ dependence on fuel imports.

The project is also seen insulating the country from potential supply disruptions, given the turmoil now affecting some major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

With this deal, Malaysia will thus be a key market to Petron’s RMP-2 project.

“It will add to the market that Petron can serve once its refinery upgrade is finished,” the source said.

Petron is the biggest oil refiner and retailer in the Philippines.

It won’t be SMC’s first time to set up shop in Malaysia as the conglomerate has presence in the packaging business. However, it’s the first time that SMC—which has transformed itself from a food and beverage—to an energy-based conglomerate—is expanding overseas outside of its traditional business.

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