TotalFinaElf buys 40 service stations in Italy from ENI

TotalFinaElf SA is buying 40 AGIP and IP-branded service stations in Italy from ENI SPA to add to the 1,300 Fina stations it already operates in the southern European country. The new retail stations, which will be Total-branded by year-end, will contribute additional motor fuel sales amounting to nearly 240,000 cu m/year to the Franco-Belgian combine's current annual sales of 2 million cu m.


By an OGJ Online Correspondent

LONDON, July 13 -- TotalFinaElf SA is buying 40 AGIP and IP-branded service stations in Italy from ENI SPA to add to the 1,300 Fina stations it already operates in the southern European country.

The new retail stations, which will be Total-branded by year-end, will contribute additional motor fuel sales amounting to nearly 240,000 cu m/year to the Franco-Belgian combine's current annual sales of 2 million cu m.

The agreement, which has been approved by Italy's competition authorities, will make TotalFinaElf one of the largest players in Italy's motor fuel market.

At the same time, TotalFinaElf is about to conclude an agreement with Agip Fran├žaise SA through which it plans to sell 74 Elf and Total-branded service stations located in eastern and southeastern France. Three of these outlets are on highways and account for a sales volume of 200,000 cu m/year, equivalent to 0.5% of the French retail motor fuels market.

TotalFinaElf currently has a refining capacity in excess of 100 million tonnes/year and a service station network of 13,300 outlets.

Meanwhile France's Finance Minister, Laurent Fabius, said recently he aims to increase competition among retail service stations operators by raising the number of hypermarket concessionaires. Oil and gas majors, until recently, monopolized the market.

Earlier this year, TotalFinaElf was forced to give up 17 highway outlets to a hypermarket to comply with European Union competition rules following merger with Fina SA and Elf SA, but there are still only 20 hypermarket stations out of 400 on France's highways.

Fabius wants to prompt oil companies to reduce their fuel prices at highway service stations. He has published a decree in the EU's Official Gazette under which highway service stations are urged to publicize comparative prices of two motor fuels sold by service stations within a 5-10 km radius outside the highway. The measure is to take effect by the end of the month.

Hypermarkets are taking an ever-larger cut of the business from the majors because they do not need the petrol sales to balance their budgets and can pull them down as far as they are allowed. They now account for 55% of the motor fuels retail sales in France.

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