Italy to seek jobs, oil supplies commitments on Vitol-Saras deal, sources say

By Thomson Reuters Feb 12, 2024 | 6:47 AM

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s government will seek commitments from Vitol on jobs, investments and continuity of supplies when vetting the global commodity trader’s plan to take over oil refiner Saras, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The Moratti family, Saras’ controlling shareholder, said on Sunday it had agreed to sell its stake to Vitol in a deal valuing the oil refiner at 1.7 billion euros ($1.8 billion).

Rome will review the transaction under “golden power” rules for industries deemed of strategic importance such as banking, energy, telecoms and health.

One of the sources said the government was leaning towards demanding commitments similar to those agreed last year with Cypriot private equity firm G.O.I. Energy to back its acquisition of the then Lukoil refinery in Sicily.

The government’s inquiry will start as soon as the parties have notified the terms of the transaction.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s office and Vitol were not immediately available for comment.

Under the deal, the entire stake owned by the Moratti family in Saras will be transferred to Vitol, triggering a mandatory tender offer for any outstanding shares.

The buyout aims at delisting the company, the Morattis said on Sunday.

Saras’ most important asset is the Sarroch plant in Sardinia, which is the biggest plant in the Mediterranean with a refining capacity of 300,000 barrels per day.

Italy’s use of golden powers in most cases results in deals being approved with binding conditions to protect the national interest.

Meloni’s government last November blocked French group Safran’s planned $1.8 billion purchase of the flight control systems arm of Collins Aerospace because it could have threatened supplies to national armed forces.

($1 = 0.9289 euros)

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Mark Potter)