By: Reuters Published: 05 Feb 13
Switzerland’s Addax & Oryx Group (AOG) plans to invest $400-million in Africa’s energy sector over the next five years and to become the top downstream firm in the region, its CE Jean Claude Gandur said.
Privately-owned AOG, once a top global oil trading firm, sought to sell its African trading and downstream assets last year before talks with a US private equity firm fell through.
“We want to build more infrastructure in Africa, develop specialities like bitumen and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and will invest $400-million over the next four to five years,” Gandur said in an interview.
Industry veteran Gandur is best known for selling AOG’s upstream assets to China’s Sinopec Group in 2009 for $7.2-billion – a decision which catapulted him onto Forbes rich list.
Gandur’s strategic U-turn on the more recent sale places AOG against Swiss trading firms Vitol and Trafigura which are also vying for assets in sub-Saharan Africa as trading margins disappoint.
Many oil executives tip Africa as the fastest growing continent in the next decade, catching up with Asia which has fuelled commodities growth in recent years.
“They are doing what I started doing 20 years ago,” said Gandur, referring to his competitors. “It’s not me who has suddenly discovered the beauty of assets. The bulk of assets I’ve built so far is not enough. I have to add more.”
Gandur said that the company’s Las Palmas fuels storage terminal on Spain’s Canary Islands would start in September or October, placing the company in prime position to meet west Africa’s fuel import needs.
He said the company was planning to build around 20 infrastructure assets related to fuel distribution as part of the five-year plan.
“I lost a bit of time as I was in upstream. I have to use this five year programme to get back in the number 1 position in sub-saharan Africa,” Gandur added.