Australian listed fuel retailer Ampol is in advanced talks for a sale of Z Energy sites with a party that is believed to be New Zealand property syndicator Willis Bond.

It comes after Ampol launched a $NZ2bn buyout for Australia and New Zealand listed Z Energy last year that will complete on May 10.

Z Energy has about 481 total network sites in New Zealand and it is understood the talks relate to about 50 sites worth about $NZ140m.

The move comes after Ampol in 2020 netted $682m through the sale of an 80 per cent stake in a petrol station network of 250 sites to Charter Hall and GIC.

Ampol also announced in December that it had sold a 49 per cent interest in a further 20 sites to Charter Hall, netting $48m in proceeds.

Willis Bond, run by Kiwi businessman Mark McGuinness, describes itself as a property development and investment company that carries out mixed-use developments across New Zealand, as well as managing several high value investment funds.

It has raised over $NZ500m in development capital in the past twelve years, $NZ361m of which has been committed to 26 development projects with an end value of $NZ2.3 billion.

It is currently working on projects with Wellington City Council, Tauranga City Council and Kāinga Ora and Eke Panuku Development Auckland.

The move to sell Z Energy stores was flagged by the company last year.

At the Macquarie Australia Conference, chief executive Matt Halliday said the Z Energy acquisition would materially increase the size of the short Trading and Shipping supplies, which follows the closure of New Zealand’s only oil refinery at Marsden Point, and creates a stronger platform to manage the transition towards cleaner energy through electric vehicles.

It comes as the $1bn-plus fuel retail convenience store owner 7-Eleven Australia considers sale options for the business through advisory firm Azure Capital.

The understanding is that Ampol is not an interested buyer of that business which is owned by the Withers family.

7-Eleven Australia has more than 700 stores located in neighbourhoods across Victoria, New South Wales, ACT, Queensland and Western Australia.

It comprises more than 450 small family-owned businesses.

There are 8,800 employees working either under the 7-Eleven brand directly or through franchised stores.

Elsewhere, some believe that the chance of Canada’s Couche-Tard returning to the negotiating table with Ampol looks increasingly slim with reports it remains in merger talks with British fuel retailer EG Group.

Couche-Tard made an $8.8bn bid for Ampol in 2019, but withdrew its offer in 2020 at the onset of the global pandemic.

Extracted in full form: Ampol in talks with Willis Bond for sale, lease back of Z Energy (