The success story of a family business pioneer in its sector


Name of the provider / Family business 

Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries S.A. 

Professional sector and company size 

Petroleum, Gas & energy industry / 3.000 permanent workers

Need/problems/challenge addressed 

Corporate governance in family business and succession/internationalization/ integration of new technologies 



Link to more information  

Greek-based company Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries S.A. plays a leading role in the sectors of crude oil refining and marketing of petroleum products in Greece, as well as the greater eastern Mediterranean region. It was founded in 1970, by Vardis Vardinogiannis and Georgios Paraschos Aleksandridis. Since 1972, Vardis J. Vardinoyannis has served as Chairman and Managing Director, while his son, Giannis B. Vardinoyannis, is leading the company by his father’s side as a Vice President and CEO. The company has followed a path of constant evolution and success despite the hurdles (such as the 2008 and 2015 crises) thrown its way. The Group exports to over 75 countries, has 92 individual companies and employs 3,000 workers. It also has branches in 8 different countries. The Group’s Refinery is the largest purely private industrial complex in Greece and is considered one of the most modern refineries in Europe!

The success story of this family business, dates to the first company of the Vardinogiannis Group, SEKA, founded in 1963, on the island of Crete through the joint venture of the Vardinogiannis family with Mobil Corporation and Aristotle Onassis, operating a marine fuel refueling station. This was followed by the establishment of an oil production unit, which developed into the current Motor Oil Hellas refineries in Corinth. The continuity of the Group has been ensured through a “bloodless” chain of succession between family members. The members of the large Vardinogiannis family have developed a harmonious relationship that is key for family businesses. Vardis Vardinogiannis has ensured a reliable and effective succession solution, essentially by handing over the “baton” of continuity to his son Giannis Vardinogiannis. In fact, according to the Statement of Corporate Governance (2022), Motor Oil Hellas’s main shareholder is 40.93% Petroventure Holdings Limited, belonging to the family, while most of the votes are held by Giannis himself. However, safeguards have yet to be established accordingly.Nevertheless, there is provision in the Statement for additional checks and balances to ensure the continuation of the company’s governance, through the preparation of a detailed framework for the filling of positions and the succession of the members of the Board of Directors.

Certainly, the success of the company expands to other aspects of entrepreneurship, such as internationalization, extroversion and continuous modernization through the integration of innovative technologies that suit the current social, economic and environmental standards. For example, Motor Oil has imposed several conditions and safety measures in the Refinery as an “umbrella of protection” for the workforce. The absence of any strike action during the company’s lifetime indicates the satisfaction of its employees, for whom the company has instituted plans for pension benefits, life insurance and hospital care. Furthermore, it has constructed a hydrocracking unit that enables the production of clean fuels in accordance with the directives of the EU.