SOUTH AFRICA – Petroliam Nasional BHd and its South African partners plan to conduct an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in their fuel retailer Engen. The IPO is meant to raise funds for the upgrade of a refinery in Durban and increase the number of its gas stations.

A yet to be decided number of shares in the company, which is South Africa’s biggest fuel retailer, will likely be sold on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in the first half of next year, according to people familiar with the matter. Engen’s 135,000-barrel-per-day refinery needs to be upgraded to meet more stringent laws aimed at curbing pollution.

Engen is 74% owned by Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional, known as Petronas, and 26% held by a group led by Phembani, a South African company founded by Phuthuma Nhleko, one of the country’s most successful black businessmen. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has been mandated to assist Petronas with the listing, the people said, asking not to be identified as the plan hasn’t been announced.

Engen, which was founded in 1881 and now operates in seven African countries, has an asset value of more than 40 billion rand (US$2.6 billion), according to the people. In its 2018 financial year it posted revenue of 82.5 billion rand (US$5.44bn) and net income of 1.8 billion rand (US$R0.12bn).

In addition to its own operations, Engen earlier this year swapped gas stations in eight African countries for a stake in Vivo Energy Plc. While Petronas gained control of Engen in 1998 it has since tried to sell the company, holding talks with South Africa’s state oil company, PetroSA, in 2013.

“Should there be an IPO exercise the market will be informed,” Petronas said in a response to queries.

Petronas is wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia, the corporation is vested with the entire oil and gas resources in Malaysia and is entrusted with the responsibility of developing and adding value to these resources.

It is ranked among Fortune Global 500’s largest corporations in the world. Fortune ranks Petronas as the 75th largest company in the world in 2013. Fortune also ranks Petronas as the 8th most profitable company in the world and the most profitable in Asia.