Melbourne — Global energy trader Vitol kicked off the planned A$5bn ($3.7bn) float of its Australian refinery and fuel supply network Viva Energy on Wednesday, in what would be the country’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) in four years. The sale of the unit, which supplies about a quarter of Australia’s fuel, is Vitol’s second IPO this year after the London listing of an African fuel business and is expected to raise up to A$3bn for the energy trader and its partners, who will retain a 40% to 50% stake. It comes amid a shake-up of Australia’s petrol retailing, with BP looking to take over top grocer Woolworths’ petrol stations and Caltex Australia ditching its franchise model to run its own operations. Vitol is looking to cash in on the $2.6bn purchase in 2014 of Royal Dutch Shell’s refinery in Geelong near Melbourne and a network of about 1,165 petrol stations. It has since spent more than A$1bn improving the business, including buying Shell’s jet fuel operations. Viva Energ...

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