Peregrine is tipped to be the frontrunner in the contest to buy about 230 Woolworths petrol stations, with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts now out of the competition.

Earlier, it was understood that Couche-Tard, PetroChina and Peregrine Corporation, partnered with KKR, were in the contest, but sources have suggested that there may now only be one party left in the mix.

The thinking is that others have fallen away and that Peregrine is the only party left.

Peregrine owns the convenience retail-driven network On The Run and is vying for the petrol stations after the competition watchdog took exception to an earlier planned sale of the 531 petrol stations by Woolworths to BP for $1.8 billion.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission argued that the sale would lessen competition and have an impact on pricing.

A formal process was then launched by BP to find buyers for about 230 of the stations in the portfolio about a month ago.

However, it remains unclear whether a sale of close to half of the portfolio would satisfy the ACCC.

While BP has no adviser, it is understood that Morgan Stanley, which has been acting for Woolworths, has offered some assistance.

Groups are considering the sale of petrol stations as the use of electric cars grows globally.

Couche-Tard was earlier a contender in the process. It operates convenience stores in the US and Europe and is dominant in the Canadian market. It has about 15,000 stores globally. An acquisition of the Woolworths petrol stations would be its first foray into Australia.

Elsewhere, it is now thought that the rival bidder on standby to acquire Tegel Foods in New Zealand, should an offer from Bounty Fresh Food be blocked by the Overseas Investment Office, could be Scales Corporation.

Scales is backed by the New Zealand private equity firm Direct Capital. Yet within Direct Capital’s funds are investors from offshore.

Mainland Poultry is now not thought to be a suitor.

Scales is based in Christchurch and listed on the NZX so would be seen as a favourable suitor for Tegel.

Its interests include horticulture, food ingredients and storage and logistics.

Bounty Fresh Food of The Philippines is offering $409 million for the Australian and New Zealand listed poultry producer, which equates to an offer of $1.23 per share.

This offer is a 50 per cent premium to the company’s closing price of NZ82c before the bid was announced.

Affinity Private Equity floated the company in 2016 at $NZ1.55 a share and still owns a 45 per cent interest in the stock.

Bounty has a deal locked in with Affinity to buy its holding which makes any rival offer from another party challenging.

Extracted from The Australian.

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