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December 13, 2019

Volume 7 Issue 4

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Viva Buys Out Liberty Wholesale Business

Viva Energy, Shell’s exclusive lubricants distributor in Australia, has completed its purchase of the remaining 50 percent of Liberty Oil’s Australian wholesale fuel and lubricant distribution business.

The A$42 million (U.S. $30 million) deal was announced earlier this year and was finalized Dec. 1, a Viva spokesperson confirmed, after regulators said they would not oppose it.

Under their agreement, Liberty and Viva each continue to own 50 percent of Liberty’s retail business. The sale of the wholesale stake gained regulatory approvals from the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission within the past few months.

Liberty’s wholesale division supplies bulk fuel and lubricants, predominantly in regional and rural markets. It has 17 regional storage depots, more than 50 trucks and tankers, and supplies a network of more than 250 retail stations carrying Shell branded lubricants.

“Our acquisition supports our strategy to grow our business in regional and small business markets across Australia,” Viva said. The company said it intends to maintain the Liberty Oil brand and business separate from its other entities to keep Liberty’s regional focus clear. Liberty offers its regional and rural customers free delivery of lubricants with their fuel order.

“We are selling to the farmers all their oil requirements for their tractors and farm machinery,” Paul Goonan, national lubricants sales manager for Liberty Oil, told Lube Report. “That’s the big plus out of this,” he added, referring to the purchase by Viva. “It’s about the rural business. We have the depot network distributing the full range of Shell lubricants in all pack sizes from 1,000-liter [intermediate bulk containers] to 1-liter packs.”

For example, the Goondiwindi depot, in the agricultural heartland of southeast Queensland state, has trucks that deliver fuel and lubricants to farms in that area. “They use a lot of oil, particularly during seeding and harvesting time. That’s when all their machinery gets serviced, and most of them service their own equipment.”

Growth in the Liberty network in recent years has helped Viva expand its retail network to 1,255 stations, according to a Viva financial report.

“Liberty has enjoyed strong growth over the last four years and has now established a broad presence in regional markets throughout the country,” Viva Energy CEO Scott Wyatt said. “We see considerable opportunities to build on this and expand the company’s operations.”

Viva Energy, created to hold U.K.-based Vitol’s Australian assets, was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange last year after Vitol sold about half of its shares to the public. Vitol purchased Shell’s downstream assets in Australia in 2014.

Shell is among the top five lubricant brands sold in Australia, according to a 2019 industry report by IBIS World. Shell lubricants include the Shell Helix motor oils.

Photo courtesy of Viva Energy

A Liberty Oil retail station. Viva Energy, Shell's Australian lubricants distributor, acquired the other half of lube distributor Liberty earlier this month.