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Shell agrees to sell African downstream assets for $1 bn

LONDON, Feb 21, 2011 – Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell said Monday it agreed to sell most of its African downstream activities to Swiss group Vitol and Africa-based Helios Investment Partners for $1 billion (740 million euros).

"Shell today announced it has agreed to divest the majority of its shareholding in most of its downstream businesses in Africa to Vitol and Helios Investment Partners for a total consideration of some $1 billion," it said.

The energy major, which is seeking to sell non-core assets, added that it will create two new joint ventures under the proposed deal.

The first venture will own and operate Shell\’s existing oil products, distribution and retailing businesses in 14 African countries, including Ivory Coast, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar.

Shell will sell an 80-percent stake in the fuels and lubricants assets to oil trading giant Vitol and Africa-focused private investment firm Helios. The Anglo-Dutch firm will retain a 20-percent holding.

The second joint venture, which will own and operate Shell\’s existing lubricants blending plants in seven countries, will be 50 percent owned by Shell and 50 percent by Vitol and Helios.

"Shell, Vitol and Helios will now concentrate on securing necessary regulatory approvals and integration planning, ahead of a phased completion of the proposed deal during 2011 and the first half of 2012," the statement added.

Monday\’s news comes after Shell revealed earlier this month that it had doubled net profits last year, aided by deep cost-cutting, higher oil prices, rising output and a series of major disposals.

Net profit, adjusted for the value of inventories of oil and gas, rocketed 90 percent to $18.6 billion (13.5 billion euros) last year.

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Shell sold $7 billion of non-core assets in 2010, bringing its total asset sales to about $30 billion over the last five years — excluding the latest African deal.

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