Total Weighs Disposals, Buys Into Scottish Discovery

PARIS (The Deal) -- France's Total (TOT) is in talks to sell all or part of its stake in a Chinese oil refinery and its French liquefied petroleum gas distribution operation as it continues to offload unwanted assets to free cash for new exploration projects.

Total said it is in exclusive talks with UGI Corp. over its Totalgaz LPG logistics business after the Valley Forge, Pa.-based bidder offered between 400 million euros and 450 million euros ($546 million and $614.4 million) for the operation. Separately, Total is also in talks with China National Petroleum Corp., which is interested in the French company's 22.4% stake in the West Pacific Petrochemical Corp., known as Wepec, which operates a refinery in the northeastern Chinese city of Dailan.

Total has been a regular seller of assets since 2012 when it announced plans to raise between $15 billion and $20 billion by the end of 2014. The company has so far sold about $16 billion of assets since that plan was announced, including its May disposal of a 10% stake in an Azerbaijan field to Turkey's state-owned oil company Turkiye Petrolleri AO, or TPAO.

On Thursday, Total also announced that it had acquired a 60% stake in the Glenlivet discovery off the coast of Scotland, adding to its stakes in the region, which it plans to develop into a "new strategic hub." It bought the stake from Denmark's Dong A/S for an undisclosed fee.

UGI said that a deal for Totalgaz had been agreed "in principle" though it still had to be presented to unions and regulators. UGI already distributes LPG in France, where it operates as Antargaz. Buying Totalgaz would more than double the size of UGI's current 250 million gallons of French sales, adding some 265 million gallons, or about 1 billion euros of revenue, and giving it a greater share of the industrial market for LPG.

"We expect the transaction, which will be funded through a combination of cash on hand and debt financing, to be accretive to EPS in the first full year," UGI President and CEO John L. Walsh said in a statement.

In China, the sale of Total's stake in Wepec would end a nearly two-decades old joint venture that was the first foreign investment in China's refinery sector. CNPC's commercial subsidiary, PetroChina Co. (PTR), operates the Dailan refinery, which can produce about 200,000 barrels of oil a day.

CNPC Chairman Wang Dongjin held talks with Total executives about "a transfer of equity" earlier this week, CNPC said. The refinery is loss making and in need of new investment that Total is unwilling to commit to, according to an unnamed Chinese "industry official" quoted by Reuters.

Total spokespeople were not immediately available to comment on the talks.

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