Vivo Energy's head office in Uganda. Picture: SUPPLIED
Vivo Energy's head office in Uganda. Picture: SUPPLIED

The partnership between the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges — which makes it easy for a company with a primary listing in London to get a secondary listing in Johannesburg — prompted Vivo Energy to also hold an initial public offering (IPO) on the JSE in May.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Vivo CEO Christian Chammas and chief financial officer Johan Depraetere said the JSE listing was unrelated to the Engen transaction whereby the group would add more than 300 service stations to its network outside SA.

The IPO was prompted by Vivo’s owners Vitol and Helios wanting to sell a portion of their shares. Under the London Stock Exchange’s rules, a minimum of 25% of a company’s shares must be "free float" owned by the public.

"This 25% minimum is combined for London and Johannesburg, so our primary motive for listing on both stock exchanges is to improve liquidity. But as an African-focused group, it is also attractive for us to be listed on the largest stock exchange in Africa," Chammas said.

Vivo’s executives declined to speculate on what the group’s market capitalisation is likely to be once its shares start trading. More details would be provided in a forthcoming prospectus, they said.

Vivo was created in 2011 by the "carve-out" of Shell’s businesses in Africa excluding SA and Egypt. It said in its statement on Tuesday that its Shell-branded service station network spanned 15 countries.

In December, Engen — which is 74%-owned by Malaysian fuel group Petronas — announced it was selling its more than 300 service stations outside of Southern Africa to Vivo.

The deal, which is awaiting regulatory approval in various jurisdictions, expands Vivo’s geographical footprint by nine countries.

"''We will keep the Engen brand where it makes business sense," Chammas said. "

Vivo has technical teams based in SA, but does not own any service stations or other assets in this country, yet.

The bidding war under way between China’s Sinopec and Glencore for US oil group Chevron’s South African assets raises the question whether Vivo is eyeing buying Engen from Petronas.

Chammas and Depraetere sidestepped answering this question without ruling it out as a possibility in the future.

"At the moment, we are focused on getting the acquisition of Engen’s 300 service stations completed by the end of 2018,", Chammas said.