Pakistan Refinery Limited and Air Link Look to Buy Shell Pakistan Stake

Reuters, July 17, 2023

State-owned Pakistan Refinery Limited (PKRF.PSX) and Air Link Communication (AIRL.PSX), a local firm, are seeking to buy a stake in Shell Pakistan (SHEL.PSX) , the companies said in a notice to the stock exchange (PSX).

Last month, Shell Petroleum Company announced its exit from Pakistan with the sale of its 77% shareholding in the local business as Shell made several announcements about its global operations, in addition to the economic challenges within Pakistan.

"We, Next Capital Limited, hereby submit a Public Announcement of Intention by Pakistan Refinery Limited and Air Link Communication Limited (collectively referred to as the "Acquirers") to acquire 77.42% shares and control of Shell Pakistan Limited," said Next Capital (NEXT.PSX), which is managing the offer on behalf of the two companies, in a notice to the PSX.

"Shell International is interested in divesting their fuel, lubricant and pipeline business in Pakistan, and we are interested in acquiring all of their business segments," Zahid Mir, PRL CEO and Managing Director, told Reuters, adding the state refinery will lead the transaction.

"It's a joint venture between PRL and Airlink. The details of shareholding between Airlink and PRL will be disclosed later," said Airlink CEO Muzzaffar Hayat Piracha.

Entering the petroleum business is in line with Airlink's goal of diversifying, Piracha said. Airlink is a smartphone distributor, manufacturer and retailer.

Mir said, "AIRLINK's strength in management experience in representing global brands and access to capital make them ideal partners for this bid."

He added the consortium has a much higher capability to manage fuel prices and time exposure versus others.

The PRL CEO said the companies would need approval from the Competition Commission of Pakistan to go ahead with the transaction.

PRL is one of the five refineries operating in Pakistan and is a subsidiary of Pakistan State Oil Company Limited (PSO.PSX).

"Shell is currently receiving expressions of interest from both international and local companies," said Shell Pakistan in response to a request for comment.

Shell Pakistan suffered losses in 2022 due to exchange rates, devaluation of the Pakistani rupee and overdue receivables amid the country's ongoing financial crisis.

(Reporting by Ariba Shahid; Editing by Kim Coghill and Sohini Goswami)

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