Business Irish

Sunday 25 August 2019

DCC underlines global ambition with $200m US gas acquisition

Donal Murphy, CEO of DCC
Donal Murphy, CEO of DCC
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Diversified Irish logistics and sales support group DCC has made its debut foray into the United States, agreeing to buy a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) business headquartered in Illinois.

The deal places a $200m (€173m) enterprise value on Retail West LPG and provides DCC with a platform for further expansion in America.

The move is significant for DCC, and comes hot on the heels of its first move into Asia. In April, DCC announced that it had made its first ever acquisition outside Europe, agreeing to buy Shell's LPG distribution business in Hong Kong and Macau.

DCC, whose CEO is Donal Murphy, said that it has reached an agreement to acquire Retail West LPG from NGL Energy Partners, and added that the purchase would provide DCC with a "substantial, high-quality presence in the US with leading market positions in a number of states".

Those leading market positions are in Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas, while Retail West also operates in seven other states.

"The acquisition of Retail West in the US is an exciting development for DCC and is consistent with our ambition to build a substantial presence in the global LPG market," said Mr Murphy.

"Our LPG business has grown significantly in recent years and Retail West will give DCC a material platform for development in the large, fragmented and growing LPG market in the US."

Retail West is initially expected by DCC to deliver annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $28.1m (€24.3m) and earnings before interest, tax and amortisation of $20.1m (€17.4m).

The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter next year.

"The acquisition represents DCC LPG's entry into the US market and is a further significant step in DCC's strategy to build a global LPG business over time," the company said.

"The US is one of the world's largest LPG markets and is an attractive and growing market."

The US LPG market is also highly fragmented, with over 4,000 LPG distribution businesses operating there.

Shares in DCC rose as much as 2.2pc in London in early trading, making it the top gainer on the FTSE-100. They slipped back later.

"We think the market will broadly welcome DCC's entry into the US given the apparent opportunities to add to the LPG portfolio despite that price paid being at the higher end of the historic range," said Goodbody Stockbrokers analyst Gerry Hennigan.

He said the price indicates a return of about 10pc, compared to a return of 12.5pc for the business in Asia that DCC acquired this year.

In the current financial year, DCC also agreed to pay £335m (€380.6m) to buy Esso's petrol station network in Norway.

Retail West employs 390 people and has been in business for 70 years.

It sells around 130,000 tonnes of LPG a year from 43 customer service locations and 58 satellite facilities. It also has a fleet of more than 150 vehicles.

It primarily trades under three brands: Hicksgas, Pacer Propane, and Propane Central and has about 65,000 customers.

About two-thirds of its annual volume is sold to residential customers, primarily for heating. The remainder is mainly sold to commercial and agricultural users.

Irish Independent

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