LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil is seeking to sell half of its 2,500 petrol stations in Italy for up to 500 million euros ($537 million), several sources close to the process said.
Exxon, through its local subsidiary Esso, is the latest oil company trying to reduce its exposure to Italy's oversupplied petrol retail sector. Royal Dutch Shell exited last year and Total and Italian energy group Erg are nearing the sale of their joint venture.
According to a number of banking sources, private equity firm Apollo is considering acquiring both the Esso and Total/Erg's 2,600 stations to allow it to rationalise the portfolio and squeeze better profits.
One of the banking sources said that other private equity groups, including Carlyle have shown interest in buying the Esso branded stations.
Italy has around 21,000 service stations across the country, almost twice the number in France and almost three times that of Britain.
Over the past two years, the government has been seeking to cut the number of stations to bring them into line with demand and make the industry more efficient.
Exxon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It generally doesn't use external advisors for M&A activity and it was unclear if it had hired a bank for this transaction.
$1 = 0.9311 euros Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle