PAI sells stake in French gas distributor

UGI, the American energy distributor, has acquired complete control of AGZ Holding, the parent company of French gas distributor Antargaz, for €261.8m.

The deal sees 70% shareholder PAI Partners and 10% shareholder Medit Mediteranea GLP, an Italian gas distribution company, sell their interests three years after their initial investment. The transaction values the company at €655m.

The original buyout was made in March 2001 at a cost of €540m as a condition of EC approval for the 1999 merger of TotalFina and Elf Aquitaine. Elf Antargaz was the French propane distribution business of the merged company, TotalFina Elf.

PAI’s investment was drawn from its €1.8bn PAI Europe III fund which closed in June 2002.

The transaction is subject to approval by the Works Council of Antargaz, the labour representative body of the company, as required by French law.

Antargaz is the second largest retail LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) distributor in France with a 24% market share. It has revenues of €680m and employs 1,200 staff, and during its PAI ownership managed to dramatically reduce its reliance on Total for its supply.

Antargaz operates from five primary and 26 secondary storage facilities throughout France serving residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, motor fuel and cylinder exchange customers, claiming a total market share of 24%.

UGI, which owns 48% of Amerigas, the largest LPG distributor in the US, is also one of the largest propane distributors in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, selling approximately 33 million retail gallons of LPG annually via its FLAGA subsidiary.