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Gunvor Talked To Rivals To Potentially Sell Itself

One of the top global oil traders, Gunvor Group, has approached at least two competitors to discuss the possibility of selling the entire company, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, quoting two people familiar with the issue.

Should Gunvor really be inclined to sell itself and an agreement be reached, a deal would lead to additional consolidation of the oil and commodity trading sector that has been long dominated by Glencore, Vitol, Trafigura, and Mercuria.

Gunvor’s chief executive and majority shareholder Torbjorn Tornqvist, however, told the Journal that there were no plans to sell the company “at this time”.

“I expect to remain a dominant shareholder in the Group for the foreseeable future,” Tornqvist said in an emailed statement to the Journal.

Switzerland-based Gunvor was set up in 2000 to export crude oil and oil products from the Gulf of Finland at a time when a clear arbitrage existed due to the fragmentation of the Russian oil industry. Since then it has opened trading offices in Singapore, Shanghai, the Bahamas, and Houston, and has acquired three refineries in Europe – in Rotterdam, in Antwerp, Belgium, and in Ingolstadt, Germany.

In March 2014, just a day before the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russian individuals over the situation in Ukraine, Russian businessmen Gennady Timchenko—then shareholder in Gunvor and a target of the sanctions—sold the shares he held to Tornqvist, fully divesting his interest in the oil trading company.

Tornqvist currently owns 61 percent of Gunvor shares, with the rest held by senior employees.

Related: Did The Banks Just Give U.S. Shale A Carte Blanche?

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Earlier this week, Gunvor reported 2016 results that showed revenue shrank to $47 billion last year from $64 billion in 2015, reflecting the continued decline in the price of commodities. After-tax profit plunged to $315 million last year from $1.25 billion the previous year, but the 2015 profit was pushed up by several significant asset sales, the company said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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