Italian press speculates that Eni bought out ConocoPhillips's 16.3% stake in Ceska Rafinerska for EUR 500m (US$ 675m) last week, extending its holding to 32.7%. Moreover, Eni aims to increase its ownership further and is in talks with Shell
to take over its 16.3% stake. Eni declined comment while Unipetrol
majority owner PKN
said it has no information on the deal.
Eni's valuation of 16.3% CRa stake of ConocoPhillips implies a fair equity value of US$ 4.13bn for Ceska Rafinerska or US$ 25m per thousand barrel a day (kbpd) refining capacity. In our SOTP, we have applied a valuation of US$ 10m per kbpd for the two small, medium complexity Czech refineries, which equates to a 33% discount to the building cost of a medium complexity new refinery at some US$ 15m per kbpd. Via this method, we estimate a fair equity value of US$ 1.66bn for CRa and US$ 0.85bn for the 51% stake held by Unipetrol
. The price Eni has apparently agreed to pay, for the 16.3% stake of ConocoPhillips, implies a valuation of US$ 2.1bn for Unipetrol
’s 51% stake in Cra, US$ 1.26bn more than our own valuation. The difference equates to CZK
145 per Unipetrol
share, which may fuel speculation that the fair value of CRa assets is much higher than analysts expect and that this should be reflected in Unipetrol
’s valuation. Although Unipetrol
considers CRa as a strategic asset, such a rich valuation might drive the management to reconsider its stance. It is yet to be seen, however, whether losing majority ownership or a full withdrawal from Ceska Rafinerska is politically acceptable for PKN Orlen
, the majority owner of Unipetrol
. Eni’s interest in buying a majority stake in CRa, as well as the price it will pay to ConocoPhillips, also requires confirmation. Finally, it remains to be seen weather the Eni move indicates a new wave of M&A activity in CEE, which could be supportive for other downstream oils, or should be viewed as a standalone case.