Gerald Ronson returning to service station roots with bid

PROPERTY tycoon Gerald Ronson plans to return to his roots with a bid for a collection of Welcome Break service stations put up for sale by Robert Tchenguiz.

The Heron Tower developer, who has boasted he “probably knows more about petrol retailing than anyone in the country” after 40 years in the business, has expressed interest in nine sites. His forecourt operator, Snax 24, is part of a consortium which also includes private equity firm Grovepoint and the South African bank Investec.

Other property companies, including Telereal Trillium, are also understood to be in the running.

Tchenguiz bought the Welcome Break freeholds in 2004 and they were valued at over £365m in 2007. The sale price is now understood to be around £300m.

Ronson, who prides himself on visiting his UK service stations most weekends, bought 810 petrol stations from Total last June through his consortium Rontec. It sold 254 on to Shell, but still manages them.

Tchenguiz and Royal Bank of Scotland, which backed his acquisition, are being advised by DTZ. Yesterday all parties refused to comment.