The chief executive of newly-relaunched fuel and service station operator Ampol has refuted suggestions that its recent $1.4 billion property spin-off could impede future takeover offers and lauded the benefits of being an independent Australian business.
Ampol, the business formerly known as Caltex, announced last Monday it was pushing ahead in de-merging half of its service station properties into a $1.4 billion property trust to be jointly owned by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and local real estate manager Charter Hall Group.
Matthew Halliday, who was recently appointed to head up Ampol as the company rebrands, knocked back concerns the demerger could reduce acquisition interest in the business, reinforcing that Ampol retained operational and strategic control over the sites.
“This is bringing in a minority partner, and ensuring that we realise value from the real estate…but making sure that strategically and operationally we remain in full control,” he said.
We’re focused on looking forward … but making we still control our own destiny.”
Canadian giant Alimentation Couche-Tard and privately owned British company EG Group have both shown interest in acquiring Ampol in recent times, with the former lobbing a $8.8 billion takeover offer earlier this year which was scuttled due to the coronavirus pandemic, though it said it intended to return to the table after the pandemic had settled down.
Ampol’s significant property assets were considered an attractive part of any takeover bid, with the company owning about 800 service station sites across the country.
Mr Halliday’s comments came as the chief executive took the wraps off the first rebranded Ampol sites on Friday, located in the suburbs of Concord and Granville in New South Wales, the first in the company’s plans to rebrand its 1900 sites across the country.
The chief executive said he thought it was a great time to be bringing back an Australian brand as more shoppers look to support local companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think there’s a huge attraction there for our customers and for us as a company to be proudly independent and Australian, which we are,” he said.
I think there’s a huge attraction there for our customers and for us as a company to be proudly independent and Australian.Ampol CEO Matt Halliday
As COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Australia’s retail landscape, Mr Halliday said he expected it would also cause some long-lasting changes in the convenience landscape, one of which would be an increase in delivery demand.
Ampol currently offers delivery from its service stations via platforms such as UberEats, where customers can purchase snacks, ready-made meals, or basic grocery essentials such as milk and bread. The channel has seen “incredible” growth in recent months, he said.
“There’s a wide range we have in our sites, it’s very much a changed offer from the convenience store in the past, and the reality is that we’re open all the time and we’re in your local neighbourhood,” he said.
“So the delivery link is actually a very strong one for our customers and we see it growing exceptionally well.”
Ampol reports its full-year results on Tuesday, where analysts expect the company to report a 20 per cent fall in revenue to $18 billion and a similar fall in earnings to $817 million.