The FINANCIAL -- Chevron Corp. has further reshaped its Asia-Pacific footprint by selling a stake in the operator of New Zealand's sole refinery, according to Nasdaq.
Chevron raised more than 82 million New Zealand dollars (US$59 million) through the sale of its around 11% interest in Refining NZ to institutional investors. Deutsche Craigs, a broker part-owned by Deutsche Bank, handled the trade of around 35.5 million shares at a price of NZ$2.33 each.
Global energy companies such as Chevron are selling assets to buffer their balance sheets from tumbling oil prices.
Two months ago, Chevron sold its 50% stake in Caltex Australia Ltd., which owns a refinery, fuel terminals and gasoline stations, for 4.73 billion Australian dollars (US$3.63 billion). It also decided not to invest more money in a joint venture with Beach Energy Ltd. to explore for shale gas in the Australian Outback. Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC have also sold or closed refining assets in Australia and New Zealand in recent years.
In April, Chevron raised its target for asset sale proceeds to US$15 billion between 2014 and 2017, up from its previous guidance of US$10 billion.
The San Ramon, Calif., company in January reported a 30% year-over-year slide in profit for the last three months of 2014 to US$3.5 billion, its lowest since the 2009 recession. Chevron said at the time it would trim spending and stop buying back its shares as the collapse in oil prices wiped billions of dollars from its cash flow.
Braden Reddall, Chevron's senior media adviser for its downstream business, said the sale of its stake in Refining NZ was in line with the company's long-term strategy.
"Asia-Pacific remains a core strategic focus for Chevron's downstream business and we are focused on ensuring our operations, portfolio and investments are well-positioned to meet the region's growing demand for energy," he said.
The sale of the Refining NZ stake is likely to ignite speculation that Chevron could sell its Caltex business in New Zealand, which includes 147 Caltex service stations and 73 Caltex unstaffed diesel fuel filling stations, serving the trucking industry. Mr. Reddall declined to comment on whether a buyer would be sought for Caltex.
According to Refining NZ, Chevron's decision to sell its shares doesn't affect processing arrangements with the refinery. Other major shareholders in Refining NZ include locally listed Z Energy Ltd. and units of BP and Exxon Mobil Corp.
In the region, Chevron's biggest bets are on exports of liquefied natural gas to Asian customers. The company is building the A$52 billion Gorgon gas-export project on an Australian island that also houses a nature reserve, and another US$29 billion project--Wheatstone--on the coast of Western Australia.