October 2, 2019 / 3:39 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Puma Energy sells Paraguay business to Trafigura's Impala JV

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By Julia Payne

LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Puma Energy, the retail and storage arm of commodities trader Trafigura, has agreed to sell its business in Paraguay to Impala Terminals for $200 million, the company said on Wednesday.

The deal is expected to complete in January next year and is part of the company's aim to deleverage its balance sheet.

Impala is a joint venture between Trafigura and IFM Global Infrastructure. Trafigura owns 49% of Puma, headquartered in Singapore and Geneva. Angola's state oil firm Sonangol and Angolan firm Cochan Holdings are also stakeholders in the company.

“This transaction is a positive step forward in Puma Energy’s commitment to optimising our global portfolio and deleveraging our balance sheet by the end of 2020,” Emma FitzGerald, Puma's chief executive, said.

The company is under pressure to reduce its debt after years of rapid expansion. It posted a net loss of $30 million in 2018 due largely to a currency devaluation in Angola and increased competition in Australia that hit the profitability of its fuel stations.

Puma's first half of 2019 was also lacklustre with net loss of $79 million.

FitzGerald, who became CEO in January, hired McKinsey to review the business and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to run the sale of some of its assets.

In Paraguay, Puma provides aviation fuel to one airport, runs two fuel terminals with 72,300 cubic meters of storage and 186 retail sites, according to its website.

Reporting By Julia Payne; editing by David Evans and Nick Zieminski

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