Petronas mulls listing lubricants business

Listing plan: Petronas flag blowing in the wind at a Petronas station in Kuala Lumpur. A listing will raise PLI’s profile and brand presence internationally, and give it access to funds for further expansion.

TURIN: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is contemplating to eventually float its lubricant business, Petronas Lubricants International (PLI), after building up this part of the business further.

“About a (possible) listing, we never discount the opportunities and have to look at (it) when the timing is right. But the focus today is to build the brand and capability,” Petronas vice-president for marketing Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir told journalists at a briefing.

Syed Zainal Abidin told StarBiz separately that growth in revenue for PLI was about 4% last year and this was higher than the industry average of 1% to 2%.

A listing would also raise PLI’s profile and brand presence internationally, and give it access to funds for further expansion.

“We cannot rely on Petronas all the time for funds. If you look at it, it is either an organic or inorganic growth and we might be looking at some acquisitions, moving forward,” he said.

The potential listing would involve going public in an international capital market such as Hong Kong to help bolster PLI’s stature as an international company, he noted.

PLI, which was established in 2008 following the acquisition of FL Selenia SpA by Petronas in 2007, produces a range of industrial and automotive lubricants. It sells to about 90 markets worldwide.

On Wednesday, PLI launched its new US$60mil Global Research and Technology Centre in Turin, Italy, to strengthen the company’s global position in the fluids business.

Turin was chosen as a spot for this research facility because of its role as a major automotive centre, according to PLI’s group chief executive officer Giuseppe D’ Arrigo.

“All the major original equipment manufacturers are in this area and it offers excellent access to engineering capabilities.

“We also want to be closer to our customers and clients. So, it is proximity to the customer and proximity to our knowledge base which is here,” he added.

Syed Zainal Abidin said this latest investment reiterated the state-owned oil firm’s commitment to the industry.

“Our partners, clients and customers would like to see a level of commitment from us and this is proof of our commitment to step up to a higher level.

“This would enable us to work closer with them to produce better lubricants to better compete, especially in terms of carbon dioxide level reductions as there is a lot of focus on that, particularly in Europe,” he said.

“We have been present in Turin for almost a hundred years, so this is an important place for us. What we are doing is to improve what we already have here.

“When we are closer to our business partners, we can give better services to them. With this new investment, we can build up our competitiveness and human capital at Petronas,” he added.

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