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Head of Murphy Oil UK steps aside to launch buyout of refinery-source

LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - The head of Murphy Oil (Frankfurt: MUQ.F - news) 's UK operations Tom McKinlay has taken a leave of absence in order to pursue the acquisition of the company's ailing Milford Haven refinery and retail business, a source close to the company said on Monday.

Murco, Murphy's British subsidiary, has been engaged for months in talks with several parties on the sale of the 135,000 barrels-per-day refinery and its assets.

McKinlay announced the move to Murco employees on Friday and will be replaced by Brian Kelly, currently working as head of Murphy's business development in West Africa, the Middle East and Britain, who will lead Murco's negotiations with the potential buyers, the source said.

McKinlay's interest comes alongside that of other potential bidders including private equity fund Greybull and Swiss industrial group Klesch, according to the source. (Reporting by Ron Bousso and Simon Falush; Editing by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Mark Potter)