Chevron Sells Caltex Australia Stake

Chevron on Friday sold its 50-percent stake in Caltex Australia, a leading fuel retailer and one of the largest lubricant suppliers in Australia.

The U.S. energy major said it made the move as part of a broader effort to raise cash and rebalance its portfolio after a large drop in oil prices reduced the companys profits. Chevron was by far the largest shareholder of Caltex Australia. The next-largest before the sale was London-based investment bank HSBC, which had two groups owning a combined 11 percent.

A licensing agreement that gives Caltex rights to sell lubricants under Chevrons Caltex brand in Australia will remain in effect, Chevron said. Chevron still owns global rights to the Caltex brand and operates under that name in numerous markets, including parts of Asia.

Caltex is the second-largest lubricant supplier in Australia with approximately 21 percent of the market. Most of the lubricants that it sells are produced by Australasian Lubricant Manufacturing Co., a 50-50 joint venture between Caltex Australia and BP. That partnership is scheduled to dissolve next month.

Caltex issued a statement maintaining that Chevrons sale will not affect its business. Caltex is the only prominent petroleum products brand listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and supplies approximately 33 percent of Australias transport fuels.

Chevrons divestiture will make it just the latest Western oil major to scale back in Australia. Shell decided last year to sell a refinery in Geelong along with its lubricants, fuels and chemicals units to Vitol. Beginning in 2010, ExxonMobil sold its retail fuels business, shut down its only Australian lubricant blending plant and closed sales offices. Both companies continue to supply lubes to the market through distributors.

Chevron reported Monday that it sold its 135 million shares for AU $35 (U.S. $26.8) per share for a total of $4.7 billion. News organizations called it the largest corporate trade in Australia's history. Chevron did not identify the buyers.