Statoil plans spin-off of its fuel station business

NORWEGIAN oil company Statoil is readying a fourth-quarter flotation of its international chain of gas stations, joining the industry trend to focus on more lucrative upstream operations.

The retail division’s listing on the Oslo stock exchange will test the appetite for new share offerings in Norway along with the expected IPO of insurance group Gjensidige due in late 2010.

Analyst Trond Omdal at Arctic Securities said he had estimated a potential market capitalisation for the unit of 10-12bn Norwegian crowns, but added that it could fetch more based on recent strong earnings. “We will move forward with preparing for the listing and then we’ll see whether we get the right value,” Statoil chief executive Helge Lund said. Lund declined to comment on the potential value the IPO. He said Statoil expected to keep more than 50 per cent of the division during the bourse listing.