Trader and shipowner Vitol is splashing out on a major stake in Italian refiner and tanker charterer Saras.

The owning Moratti family is selling its entire 35% holding for €1.75 ($1.88) per share.

This values the equity of Saras at €1.7bn and makes Vitol’s stake worth €595m, the biggest slice in the group.

The deal will trigger a mandatory offer for the rest of the stock at the same price.

The goal is to delist Saras from the Milan Stock Exchange.

The offer price is 7% above the average price over the last month.

Saras’ big asset is the largest single-site refinery in the Mediterranean, at Sarroch in Sardinia.

The 300,000 barrel per day plant supplies products to Italy and the rest of Europe.

Saras also has a chartering arm, a power plant and a significant renewables portfolio comprising 171MW of operational wind assets and a pipeline of 593 MW and 79 MW of wind and solar projects, respectively.

Vitol said it has a long history of investing in energy infrastructure around the world, from oil production and refineries to renewables and carbon capture.

Opportunity knocks

“This transaction presents an opportunity for Vitol to invest in a high-quality asset, well placed to serve both Italy’s and Europe’s current and future energy needs,” the group added.

Saras was founded in 1962 by Angelo Moratti.

Chairman and chief executive Massimo Moratti said: “Sixty-two years after my father founded it, together with my nephews Angelo and Gabriele and my sons Angelomario and Giovanni, I believe that the best assurance for the future success of the Sarroch refinery is the aggregation with a leading player in the global energy sector, such as Vitol.”

The deal will give access to the managerial and financial resources needed to compete in the current international market environment, the family believes.

Vitol will have investments in more than 800,000-bpd of refining capacity across seven sites when the deal goes through.

Vitol chief executive Russell Hardy said: “Our ambition is to invest in a strong Italian energy company, run by an empowered local management team and supported by Vitol’s expertise and market reach.”

“Saras’ business is highly complementary to Vitol’s core operations and this transaction will strengthen European energy security and enhance supply for a key European energy asset,” he added.