Shell to sell retail operations in Africa

Royal Dutch Shell is selling its downstream businesses in 21 African countries, in line with its strategy to cut its retail operations by 35 per cent.

The company has had several expressions of interest from potential buyers of its retail, lubricant, liquid petroleum gas and bitumen operations across all of its African markets except fuels, lubricants and refinery activities in South Africa, and the group's lubricants business in Egypt. The company also plans to appoint third-party distributors for its branded lubricants in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Ghana. No exploration and production operations are included in the review.

Shell chief executive Peter Voser last year announced his intention to sell 15 per cent of the company's refining capacity. At last month's annual strategy presentation he said the group's portfolio was "too scattered", and revealed additional plans to exit more than a third of company's retail markets to remedy the situation. The strategy equates to shedding 5 per cent of Shell-branded retail sites around the world.

The sale of such a large chunk of Shell's downstream African businesses is the first move to execute the strategy. Xavier le Mintier, the executive vice president of Shell Oil Products Africa, said yesterday: "This decision is part of our drive to refocus our global downstream footprint into fewer, larger markets."

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