Peter Hearl, a veteran food and energy industry executive, has been appointed by Woolworths, as chairman of its fuel business.
This indicates that the retailer is favoring an initial public offering rather than a trade sale. Having joined the board of Woolworths Petrol late last month, Mr Hearl will participate in presentations to potential investors during Woolworths' non-deal roadshow, which kicks off in Sydney. When BP walked away from a $1.8 billion deal to buy the business after failing to overcome Australian Competition and Consumer Commission concerns, Woolworths has been pursuing options for fuel since June.
At its full year results announcement last month, Woolworths told investors it was looking at both a trade sale and an initial public offering and had received strong interest from trade players. However, it hoped to make a decision before Christmas since there was also strong momentum in the IPO process.
There are also suggestions that Woolworths may be erring in favour of an IPO, with the appointment of Mr Hearl, who is now looking to appoint other non-executive directors to the fuel business. Mr Hearl owns 30 plus years’ experience in the fuel and fast moving consumer goods industries and is credited with overseeing much of the growth of brands such as KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut around the world.
The fuel business has 534 sites and sells 3.6 billion liters of fuel a year, earnings from which rose 7.1 per cent to $168 million in 2018 as sales rose 3.1 per cent to $4.8 billion. The Woolworths Fuel business could be worth between $1.5 billion and $1.6 billion, based on the current trading multiples of Viva Energy Group, which floated in July, and Caltex. Source: Financial Review PWKD10092018
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