Puma Energy raises $200m from Paraguay sale

Puma Energy, the debt-heavy fuel storage and petrol station business, has raised $200m from the sale of its assets in Paraguay to a group controlled by Trafigura, its majority shareholder.

The deal with Impala Terminals Group, a joint venture between Trafigura and IFM Infrastructure, marks the latest step by Puma to ease some of the pressure on its balance sheet. The company has sold one non-core asset this year and is currently seeking a buyer for its Australian business.

Puma is reported to want at least $450m for that business.“This transaction is a positive step forward in Puma Energy’s commitment to optimising our global portfolio and deleveraging our balance sheet by the end of 2020,” Emma Fitzgerald, Puma’s chief executive.

After a five-year $5.7bn acquisition spree, Puma is looking to reduce debts and right-size its portfolio, which stretches around the world from Australia to Africa and the Americans. Ms Fitzgerald took the helm of the company earlier this year after Trafigura — unhappy with the performance of the business — replaced the previous management team led by Pierre Eladari.

Puma posted a net loss of $31m in 2018, down from a profit of $108m the year before. Its net debt currently stands at around $1.56bn, or almost three times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. Impala Terminals is a joint venture between Trafigura and IFM Global Infrastructure, an Australian fund manager with approximately $35bn of infrastructure investments worldwide.

The business it is buying from Puma owns close to 190 service stations in Paraguay as well as two fuel terminals, with storage capacity of 72.3m cubic metres.Trafigura owns 49 per cent of Puma.

Other shareholders include Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company, with a 28 per cent stake, and Cochan Holdings, an investment group founded by powerful Angolan businessman Leopoldino Fragoso do Nasciment, has a 15.5 per cent holding.Sonangol has indicated it wants to sell its stake in Puma but has not set a deadline for a disposal. Trafigura has a carrying value of $1.9bn for its 49 per cent stake in Puma.