Billionaire Carlos Slim picks up distressed energy assets in US

Carlos Slim is doubling down on distressed US energy.

Mr Slim and his family have accumulated stakes worth $230 million in oil refiner PBF Energy and pipeline operator PBF Logistics, continuing to snap up stock even as the shares have slumped.

The family investment vehicle, Control Empresarial de Capitales, is now PBF Energy’s largest shareholder and the second-biggest in PBF Logistics.

They emerged as investors in the companies in 2017 and added about $70m in 2020, with the bulk of the purchases following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

Slim is the world’s 21st-richest person with a $57.6 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The bulk of his wealth derives from telecommunications giant America Movil.

“We see this purely as an investment, which is very different from our own operations,” Arturo Elias, Mr Slim’s spokesman and son-in-law, said. “The world still needs refining for planes, ships, cars and these companies were punished because consumption fell due to the pandemic.”

Demand for gasoline collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic, prompting PBF Energy – which spun off PBF Logistics in 2014 – to close some of its refining facilities. Shares in both New Jersey-based companies have dropped at least 45 per cent since the start of 2020, while some of PBF Energy’s bonds are trading at distressed levels.

“US refining is still in dire straits,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Fernando Valle. “2021 won’t be much better unless the vaccine is faster and more successful than expected.”

A PBF Energy representative said the Slim family’s investing in the company isn’t a recent development. A representative for PBF Logistics didn’t respond to requests for comment.

America Movil subscribes to the United Nation’s global initiative for corporate sustainability.

“Our operations are increasingly green,” Mr Elias said. “We’re also certain that the companies we invested in comply with all environmental regulations.“

Published: January 12, 2021 08:00 AM