Gulf did not disclose the price of the transaction, which is subject to closing conditions including approval of a Singapore court, but it did say that the plant would provide a platform for it to expand in the region and in the marine lubricant market.
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“This facility provides a strategic opportunity for Gulf to invest further in the marine segment and grow its market share in marine lubricants and other services,” Gulf Oil International CEO Mike Jones said in a news release. “It will also provide a regional hub to accelerate our business development plans in Southeast Asia within the automotive sector, with a focus on Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as Oceania.”
The Singapore plant has capacity to make 50,000 metric tons of lubricants per year and would become the eighth lube blending facility operated by the Gulf family of companies. Gulf Oil International, which is part of the Hinduja conglomerate that is based in Mumbai and headquartered in London, operates plants in Manila; Yantai, China; Jebel Ali and Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd. has two plants in India – in Silvassa and Chennai.
The Singapore plant was put up for sale in early October by administrators appointed by Singapore’s Supreme Court to manage Hin Leong after it and Ocean Tankers filed for bankruptcy protection in April. At that time Hin Leong Trading (PTE) admitted that it had run up more than $800 million in losses in recent years despite reporting steady profits. The companies and officials have since been accused of forging documents and overvaluing assets.
The temporary judicial managers have reported that the companies have more than about $3.5 billion in liabilities and approximately $257 in assets.
The judicial managers, with PricewaterhouseCoopers, did not respond to an email yesterday, and phone calls to Hin Leong and Ocean Tankers went unanswered.
In addition to the blending plant, the acquisition agreed to by Gulf includes a wharf access, a storage tank farm and a terminal in Singapore’s Tuas region. Gulf officials said it plans to operate the blending plant as a going concern, but it did not say if the plant is currently operating. Some Hin Leong and Ocean Tankers operations have been halted.
Hin Leong also owns a second lubricant plant – a grease and lubricating oil blending facility in Fujian, China.