Canadian firm paid €258m in cash for Denis O’Brien’s Topaz
Petrol station chain was sold to Couche Tard in February
A Topaz petrol station in Ireland. File photograph: Dave Meehan
Canadian fuel retailer Couche Tard paid €258 million in cash for Denis O’Brien’s Topaz network of filling stations.
The payment, revealed by Couche Tard in investor filings, was net of unquantified debts it assumed in the deal.
Couche Tard’s unexpected purchase of the business in December came just after Topaz took over Esso’s operation in Ireland.
The sale closed on February 1st, a day on which Topaz and Esso Ireland satisfied a total of nine bank charges.
The scale of the debts in the two businesses was not publicly revealed, although reports of the transaction at the time put a total value of some €450 million on the deal.
Mr O’Brien had bought the debts of Topaz for €150 million from Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the former Anglo Irish Bank, before the €75 million add-on of Esso just before the Couche Tard sale.
Abandoned flotationThe sale to Couche Tard came in a year when Mr O’Brien abandoned a €2 billion (€1.76 billion) flotation of Digicel, his Caribbean mobile phone empire.
The Canadian buyers of Topaz have moved to install their own directors in the Irish business.
Official filings show that Mr O’Brien resigned from the board of Topaz Energy Group on February 1st, as did his nephew Emmet O’Neill and directors including former taoiseach Brian Cowen, Lucy Gaffney, Dermot Hayes, Seán Corkery, Colm Doherty, John Callaghan, Niall Anderton and Gerard Barrett.
On the same day, Mr O’Neill, Mr Anderton and Mr Hayes resigned as directors of Topaz Bull Fuels, formerly known as Esso Ireland.
The new directors are Jorn Madsen, Lars Syse Christiansen, Joachim Roberg-Larsen, Gerard Ryan and Fiona Mahon.
In its quarterly trading report, Couche Tard said the “total cash consideration” for the purchase of “all outstanding shares” in Topaz, Esso Ireland and a related vehicle called Resource Property Investment Fund was €258 million.
In the same document, however, Couche Tard said it had drawn down a total of $698.6 million (€613.4 million) from a revolving credit facility in preparation for the closing of the Topaz deal and for investments in property and equipment.
NetworkThe Topaz network comprises 444 filling stations, 158 of them company-run and 286 run by dealers.
The Topaz and Esso stores will be renamed Circle K as part of a new global brand.
Companies Office filings indicate that the Canadian group has taken steps to establish a Dublin-based holding company in Circle K’s name.
The takeover deal included more than 30 commercial fuel depots and two terminals.
“In line with our business model, we expect [to realise] synergies through growth of in-store sales and fuel volumes, improve our operations, share our business awareness and each company’s best practices, as well as optimising supply conditions,” Couche Tard said.
“We also expect to realise some cost reductions through the integration of Topaz into our network.”
Couche Tard said its priority for the remainder of its fiscal year, which runs to the end of April, was to work on the integration of Topaz into its network.