Philadelphia business icon Sunoco sold

    Texas-based Energy Transfer will buy Sunoco for $5.3 billion. The sale comes as Sunoco completes its tumultuous transition away from refining oil to focus on distributing energy. 

    A recent Sunoco retiree watches tanker trucks roll in and out of the plant.  When she worked there, Sunoco was a family company. She doesn’t want to be named because she’s not as sure how the company that pays her pension might react. She says friends who are still working are worried.

    “I hope for my friends’ sake that are still there that it works out well. I’m also glad that I’m not there. It’s too much turmoil,” she said. “You get too edgy and stuff like this. You dont’ know if you’re working or not working. You have a job don’t have a job, if you have a job are they good people or they aren’t. It’s too much.”

    Danielle Williams, grew up nearby and says the changes are bittersweet even if she never took a Sunoco paycheck.

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    “Since I been a little girl I always seen this place here. My sister used to joke around like saying like aliens used to live in the factory,” said Williams. “But like it’s something that’s familiar to our city and it’s been there for a while and it’s hard to see like stuff go.”

    Sunoco’s large distribution operation will remain headquartered in Philadelphia. 

    The companies say they will still try to sell Sunoco’s Philadelphia-area refineries. The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, has expressed interest in running the day-to-day operations of the one in Philadelphia. 

    Analyst Alan Good of Morningstar says Sunoco became more attractive to buyers as it slimmed down. He thinks natural gas will keep Sunoco’s pipeline and transport business in demand.

    “Definitely with the growth that’s expected in the Marcellus — along with other unconventional area, it certainly was a nice piece to add,” said Good. “Plus whether you have the refining or not, you’re going to need to move around refined product and oil there on the East Coast.”

    The news comes as Delta Airlines announces it will buy the nearby Conoco Phillips refinery in Trainer, Delaware County.

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