Locke expands petrol station empire with Shell deal

Motor Fuel Group (MFG) currently operates more than 280 forecourts across the UK. Picture: PA
Motor Fuel Group (MFG) currently operates more than 280 forecourts across the UK. Picture: PA
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Oil tycoon Alasdair Locke, who made his fortune with the sale of Aberdeen-based driller Abbot in 2008, has sealed a deal to buy 90 petrol stations from Shell.

The acquisition is being made through Locke’s Motor Fuel Group (MFG), which currently operates more than 280 forecourts across the UK under the BP, Jet and Texaco brands.

Shell, which has agreed a £47 billion swoop on rival BG, also said yesterday that it was selling 68 sites to Euro Garages as part of its strategy to reduce its service stations to about 550.

The 158 petrol stations being sold for an undisclosed sum will retain the Shell brand. The handover to MFG and Euro Garages is expected to complete by the end of the year.

David Moss, who is responsible for the oil major’s retail business in the UK, Denmark and Norway, said: “I’m pleased these dealers have chosen to grow their businesses with Shell and are as committed as we are to delivering high-quality products and customer service.”

He added: “Our priority is to ensure that a consistently excellent customer offer is available across our network, whether the service station is owned by Shell or by an independent dealer.

“That’s why we selected these independent dealers to work with, as they will invest in the sites and aim to deliver the same high standards of safety and customer care that are synonymous with the Shell brand.”

Locke became one of Scotland’s richest men when he sold oil and gas services business Abbot seven years ago, netting more than £100 million. The entrepreneur founded the firm in 1992 and floated it in London three years later.

He was executive chairman when US private equity firm First Reserve bought Abbot in a deal that valued the group at £906m. In 2010, Abbot – by then renamed as KCA Deutag – changed hands again, with control passing to Pamplona Capital Management.

As well as chairing MFG, Locke is also chairman of India-focused Hardy Oil & Gas and Ceramic Fuel Cells, an Aim-quoted maker of generators.

MFG is backed by private equity firm Patron Capital and last year struck a £200m deal to buy 228 petrol stations from 
US-based Murphy Petroleum.

In 2013, Patron joined forces with insurer Legal & General to buy house-builder Cala in a deal that valued the Edinburgh-based group at £210m. It also owns Powerleague, the Paisley five-a-side football pitch operator.

MFG managing director Jeremy Clarke said the deal with Shell “gives us 90 high volume, quality stations that reinforce our commitment to become one of the most dynamic and profitable independent forecourt operators in the UK”. He added: “We are looking forward to working with Shell to maximise the potential of these sites.”