Sunoco, Inc. (NYSE: SUN) announced Monday that it has entered into exclusive discussions with The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager, regarding a potential joint venture involving Sunoco's 330,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Philadelphia.
If a transaction were to be consummated, Sunoco would contribute its Philadelphia refinery assets in exchange for a non-operating minority interest in the joint venture. In addition, Sunoco would have no on-going capital obligations with respect to the refinery. Carlyle would contribute cash to the joint venture, hold the majority interest and oversee day-to-day operations of the joint venture and the facility. No other financial terms of the potential transaction were disclosed and there can be no assurances that the two companies will come to agreement.
Speaking on the potential joint venture and what it could mean to operations at the Philadelphia refinery, Sunoco's president and chief executive officer Brian P. MacDonald said, "The Carlyle Group has financial depth, broad energy sector experience, and a history of building value. We believe having a strong partner like Carlyle with a track record of leading successful business turnarounds is necessary to preserve the facility's future. Also, a concerted effort by all stakeholders is necessary to ensure the successful completion of this joint venture. We have been encouraged by the offers of support by federal, state, local and labor officials."
Rodney S. Cohen, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group, said, "We are working actively with Sunoco and other stakeholders to explore ways to keep this vital facility operating. The facility has been operating at a significant loss for some time, and we are exploring every avenue to create a viable plan. It is a heavy lift and we are not sure a solution is possible, but we are doing the work."
Leo W. Gerard, International President, United Steel Workers, said, "The USW is more than willing to work with all levels of government and any willing party who has the common goal with us to keep these East Coast refining facilities in operation. We continue to believe their ongoing operation is crucial not only to the thousands of our members employed there but to the surrounding communities and to effectively deal with the nation's fuel and energy issues."
In light of these on-going discussions with Carlyle, Sunoco intends to extend its previously announced timeline and operate the Philadelphia refinery through July 2012. If a suitable transaction with Carlyle cannot be completed, the company would proceed with idling the main processing units at the refinery in August 2012.