Exclusive: Sinclair Oil weighs offers for company sale: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sinclair Oil Corp, which operates two Wyoming refineries and has licensed more than 1,000 branded gasoline stations, is reviewing offers to buy the company, according to three people familiar with the matter.

A Sinclair sale could fetch between $2 billion and $3 billion, according to the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity as the talks are private.

However, many U.S. refineries are already on the block and have struggled to find buyers. The sharp drop in equity and energy prices also makes striking mergers and acquisitions deals in the current climate very difficult.

The company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, will review initial incoming offers and will determine whether serious talks are merited, two of the sources said. A determination on the viability of the offers is expected within the month. It has retained boutique firm Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co as an advisor; neither it or Sinclair would comment for this story.

Sinclair operates an 85,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Sinclair, Wyoming and a 25,000 bpd refinery in Casper, Wyoming. The two refineries process crude from the Rocky Mountain region, while the Sinclair operation also runs Canadian crude.

The company has 1,500 branded gasoline stations across 29 states, according to its website. It is best known for its trademark green dinosaur mascot, Dino, seen on gas station signs and depicted in a balloon that has flown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York several times.

The company also has a network of crude oil and finished-product pipelines and terminals in the Rocky Mountain and midcontinent regions.

Refiners operating in the Rocky Mountain region, such as Par Pacific (PARR.N), CVR Energy Inc (CVI.N), Delek Energy (DK.N) and HollyFrontier Corp (HFC.N), would be among the most logical buyers for Sinclair. None of those refiners immediately responded to requests for comment.

The company was founded in 1916 by Harry Sinclair.

Former Chief Executive Earl Holding consolidated the refineries and gasoline stations. Holding’s son-in-law Ross Matthews now serves as CEO, and the family still controls the company.

In addition to an outright sale, Sinclair would consider strategic options like a reverse Morris Trust, which would take the company public but allow the family to maintain a stake, according to one source.

Some assets, including the company’s hotels and ranches, would not be included in a transaction, one of the people said.

In 2012, Sinclair began licensing gas stations throughout the United States, allowing them to use Sinclair branding in markets not supplied by Sinclair fuel.

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