Chinese set to acquire Caltex SA – biggest foreign investment in a decade

By Alec Hogg

Last night’s announcement from China’s Sinopec in which is says it is poised to buy Chevron’s South African assets, including its oil refinery and fleet of over 1 000 Caltex petrol stations, is uplifting.

First, it illustrates divergent paths pursued by multinationals from the world’s two biggest economies. As we heard in Davos last year and will likely hear again this month, China is committed to leading globalisation. The US, where Chevron is headquartered, is on a different path.

Second, it reflects the ability of companies from the Middle Kingdom to outmuscle Western competition. Ivan Glasenberg’s Glencore is the other bidder for the assets, which the Chinese have valued at $900m.

And third, it may well spark the Chinese investment boom which South Africa has been waiting for since ICB’s $5.6bn purchase for 20% of Standard Bank in 2007. Better late than never.

UPDATE: Glencore says the deal has not been done and that it is still in the running –

There has been no change to the position of Glencore or Off The Shelf Investments Fifty Six (OTS) relating to the proposed acquisition of shareholdings in Chevron South Africa and Chevron Botswana.  Good progress is being made in satisfying OTS’ conditions to complete the transaction.