Alchemy Exits Petrol Express –

Alchemy Partners has sold its interest in Petrol Express through a secondary buyout transaction. The buyer is Middlesex Holdings, a holding company for subsidiaries involved in metal trading and providing support services to natural resource industries and financial services, principally in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Eastern European Income Fund.

The price was not disclosed. However, Middlesex Holdings acquired a 25% stake in the business and Eastern European Income Fund acquired 55%, plus the entire redeemable preference share capital of Petrol Express.

Alchemy Partners became involved with this company when Alchemy Investment Plan invested GBP3 million in the GBP6.65 million management buy-in of Thames Rico Service Stations, which was renamed Petrol Express, from Thames Fuel Holdings in August 1997. The following January, Alchemy Investment Plan supported the GBP12.8 million acquisition of a national portfolio of 51 forecourts from Oakstead Holdings. The Plan committed GBP3.2 million in equity to support this acquisition. In January 1999, 14 sites were acquired from Shell for GBP15 million.

With these acquisitions, Petrol Express secured long-term supply contacts with leading oil companies Esso and Texaco, and entered into a forecourt retailing arrangement with Londis. Petrol Express’ revenue last year was GBP132 million and operating profit was GBP2 million.