Thrings advises Watson Petroleum Limited in significant acquisition deal

By Anita Jaynes on 13 January, 2014
Top UK law firm Thrings – whose office in Swindon is on Drakes Meadow – has advised the shareholders of Wiltshire-based fuel distribution business Watson Petroleum Limited on its acquisition by World Fuel Services Corporation, one of the largest global fuel logistics companies in the world.
The $191million transaction deal signals the latest stage in the relationship between Thrings and Watson Petroleum which first began in 1957.
Led by senior corporate partner John Davies and associate solicitor Simon Hore, Thrings worked closely with the owners of Watson Petroleum on all strategic and legal matters. Corporate finance advice was provided by Grant Thornton. 
John Davies said: “Thrings has enjoyed a close working relationship with Watson Petroleum for almost six decades. In the last 10 years alone I have taken great pleasure working alongside managing director Tony Watson and his team on the acquisition of more than 20 fuel distribution businesses throughout the UK. During that time our focus has remained on consistently providing a first-class standard of legal advice.
“This deal was no exception, and we are delighted to have successfully negotiated the legal complexities which helped bring matters to a positive conclusion for all parties. We are extremely proud of our association with Watson Petroleum, and wish the company and its employees all the very best during this exciting period and beyond.”
Watson Petroleum, which currently employs 670 staff, supplies commercial fuels and industrial lubricants throughout the UK via its network of 45 depots and approved suppliers. Under the terms of the deal, Tony Watson will remain as managing director while also overseeing all World Fuel land distribution businesses in the UK.
Tony Watson said: “World Fuel Services is one of the world’s largest global fuel logistics companies, and was recently ranked 74th in the Fortune 500. Recognising its extensive capabilities, breadth of products and services and solid financial foundation, we felt the acquisition would present us with a significant strategic opportunity to expand our product and service offering, accelerate plans to develop our distribution network and offer our clients and staff a clear and exciting future.
“But none of this would be possible without the deal being finalised, and our relationship with Thrings during the entire process was fundamental to its eventual success. John and Simon were thorough, meticulous and demonstrated great commercial awareness at every stage, as well as being friendly and extremely easy to deal with. I can always rely on John and his team to provide a first-class service and a level of discretion which cannot be underestimated.
“Over the past 60 years, we have come to view Thrings as a firm which shares our values and focus on clients and are delighted to have had such a long and prosperous association with them.”
Mark Naughton, head of corporate finance at Grant Thornton in the south west, added: “It has been a pleasure working with Watson Petroleum and Thrings to secure an excellent outcome for the business and its shareholders. Watson Petroleum has an excellent opportunity to continue to expand from its base in Brinkworth with the support of World Fuel.”
The acquisition of Watson Petroleum by World Fuel Services is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to complete within 60 days.