US deal maker may swoop to save bust Coryton

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The Independent Online

An American deal maker, who made his name in the 1990s by investing in struggling businesses such as Eurotunnel and Euro disney, has emerged as a potential saviour of the Coryton refinery.

Gary Klesch is the first suitor to publicly declare an interest in Coryton since the Essex refinery, which supplies a fifth of the petrol consumed in London and the South-east, went bust on Monday night.

Mr Klesch, who runs his family investment firm Klesch & Co from London and Geneva, is also considering buying two other refineries in the same group as Coryton. All three are up for sale after their Swiss parent company, Petroplus, filed for insolvency this week.

He reiterated his aim to build a refining empire yesterday at a time when traditional players such as BP are reducing their interest. Refineries are struggling as rising oil prices and falling petrol consumption squeeze industry profits. "I don't think the market will change in the short term. We're taking a longer-term view of this," he said.

"Capacity is coming out of the market. That's good; it means there will be a more rational environment," he added.

He bought the Heide refinery in Germany from Shell in August 2010 and has held takeover discussions with a series of other operations since, including Total's Lindsey oil refinery.

After a two-day suspension of deliveries Coryton resumed sales of the petrol, diesel and jet fuel it produces yesterday.

However, with only a few days worth of crude left and no money to buy fresh supplies, production will cease next week unless it can satisfy its suppliers payment can be made.