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Caltex Australia delays naming new CEO as bidders line up

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Caltex Australia on Tuesday said it had suspended its search for a new chief as it deals with two takeover proposals and tries to turn around its oil refining and marketing business.

[BENGALURU] Caltex Australia on Tuesday said it had suspended its search for a new chief as it deals with two takeover proposals and tries to turn around its oil refining and marketing business.

The company appointed CFO Matthew Halliday as its interim chief executive as a bidding war heats up between privately held EG Group and Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard.

Chief executive Julian Segal, who has led the company for more than 10 years, flagged in August that he planned to retire as soon as the company found a replacement.

The delay comes as the refiner struggles to boost refining and retail fuel margins and earnings from its Lytton lubricants refinery.

Full-year net profit on a "replacement cost" basis fell more than 38 per cent to A$344 million (S$319 million), slightly above the midpoint of its own forecast of A$320 million to A$360 million.

The company, which also runs petrol stations and convenience stores, has been under pressure to revive growth as weak consumer demand and higher crude prices squeeze margins.

Caltex last week disclosed a A$3.9 billion-plus offer from EG Group just days after Alimentation Couche-Tard sweetened its final bid - a A$35.25 per share all-cash offer - to get access to conduct further due-diligence.

Caltex and EG Group have not provided a total value for EG's offer and analysts say it is still unclear whether it beats Couche-Tard's.

Caltex announced a fully franked dividend of 51 Australian cents per share for the second half of fiscal 2019.

Shares of the company fell about 0.5 per cent in early trade, while the broader market was about 2.3 per cent lower.

REUTERS