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“Rich Kruger, Suncor CEO, Considers Selling Petro-Canada Gas Station Chain”

CEO Rich Kruger has indicated openness to the prospect of selling Suncor’s Petro-Canada retail business, marking a potential shift in the company’s strategy.

In 2022, the Calgary-based oil and gas giant decided to retain its expansive network of over 1,500 Canadian retail gas stations, despite pressure from New York-based activist investor Elliott Investment Management to sell. Suncor’s decision stemmed from a comprehensive review that suggested the company might not achieve the desired price for Petro-Canada. Estimates pegged Petro-Canada’s net worth between $3.8 billion and $5.7 billion.

Kruger assumed the role of Suncor’s permanent CEO in April of the preceding year. Speaking at the 2024 BMO & Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) Energy Symposium in Toronto on Tuesday, he expressed a willingness to entertain the idea of selling Suncor’s retail arm in the future. However, Kruger emphasized that such a move is not currently among his top priorities.

“I think it’s a decision we could revisit,” Kruger stated. “If and when we revisit, and make a different decision, I would hope the market would value it accordingly.”

With a wealth of experience in the industry, including previous leadership roles at Imperial Oil, Kruger has spearheaded an efficiency drive at Suncor, resulting in the elimination of thousands of jobs. His strategic vision includes leveraging automated technologies to streamline operations at the company’s mine sites.

Reflecting on his tenure at Imperial, Kruger recalled a similar scenario where the decision to sell the company’s Esso retail stations was made. He emphasized that such decisions are influenced by timing and circumstances.

“In a prior life, I had a similar situation, and made a different decision,” he remarked. “It’s just like anything, it’s kind of time and circumstances.”

Kruger highlighted Suncor’s recent partnership with retailer Canadian Tire as an example of adding value to the gas station chain. While acknowledging the decision made before his tenure to retain the retail business, he emphasized that this does not necessarily bind the company to that strategy indefinitely.

“The decision that was made before I arrived to retain the retail, I don’t take any particular issue with that,” Kruger explained. “But that doesn’t mean that’s the decision forever.”

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