Denis O’Brien sells Topaz for estimated €450m

Canadian firm buys forecourt retailer withnetwork of 464 service stations

 

The Denis-O’Brien owned fuel group Topaz is to be acquired by the Canadian-listed company Couche-Tard in a deal estimated by industry sources to be worth more than €450 million.

The transaction is expected to close in early 2016.

Couche-Tard is one of the world’s leading convenience and fuel retail businesses with 15,000 sites across its network in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Approximately 100,000 people are employed in its network across the world.

Topaz chief executive Emmet O’Neill described the acquistion as a game-changer for Ireland.

“Couche-Tard is one of the strongest names in retail in the world and their presence in Ireland will transform the retail sector here. I am thrilled that they have chosen Topaz as the foundation for their entry to the Irish market. They will bring enormous skill, energy and resources to this business and this market,” he said.

“In the last two years Topaz has moved from being a challenged business to one which has been transformed at every level and which now leads the market here. We have refinanced the company, upgraded the infrastructure, acquired and built new sites and convenience stores and ultimately acquired the business of Esso in Ireland. Today’s transaction is a reflection of the immense effort made by everyone on the team and across the company over that time,” he added.

Topaz is Ireland’s largest convenience store and fuel retail business. Its network includes 464 service stations, 162 of which are company owned and a commercial fuels operation with over 30 depots. The business employs over 2,000 people across the island of Ireland.

Mr O’Brien took control of Topaz for €150 million in December 2013, buying its €300 million debt from IBRC at a knockdown price of €150 million

The group reported lower turnover but higher profits for the 12 months to March. Revenued declined slightly to €2.8 billion from €2.9 billion in fiscal 2014. However, the group reported operating profits before exceptional costs of €13.2 million. The group said this compared with profits of €10.6 million for the same period a year earlier.

Earlier this year, Topaz announced plans to invest €20 million in a major rebranding programme linked to its takeover of Esso Ireland.

Topaz was given clearance by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in October to purchase Esso’s fuels and convenience business in Ireland. The deal extended Topaz’s network to 425 service stations, of which 162 will be company owned. It will also give the business a presence in each of the 32 counties on the island.