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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Shell sells Australian refinery, gas stations to Vitol for $2.6 billion

SYDNEY - Royal Dutch Shell said Friday it is selling its Australian gasoline stations and refinery to energy trader Vitol Group for 2.9 billion Australian dollars ($2.6 billion).

The sale of Shell's downstream businesses includes its Geelong refinery near Melbourne and its 870 retail outlets, the Hague, Netherlands-based company said in a statement. It does not include Shell's aviation unit.

"Australia remains important to Shell, but we are making tough portfolio choices to improve the company's overall competitiveness," Shell's CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

Most affected employees will be able to keep their jobs and continue working under Vitol, Shell said.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be finalized later this year.

Shell has recently sold refineries in the U.K., Germany, France, Norway and the Czech Republic.

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