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    Alon Preparing for Expansion

    Refiner/marketer receives $48 million financial package from GE Franchise Finance.

    DALLAS -- Alon USA said it is planning an aggressive growth of its Southwest Convenience Stores network in Texas and New Mexico, the result of an agreement for a $48-million financial package from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based GE Franchise Finance.

    Alon will dedicate $13 million to expanding Southwest Convenience Stores, and will apply the remaining $35 million to retire existing debt.

    "We are extremely pleased with the support that GE Franchise Finance provided through this financing," said Jeff Morris, president and CEO of Alon USA. "These funds provided significant additional resources to aid our growth of Southwest Convenience Stores."

    Southwest Convenience Stores LLC (SCS) is the largest licensee of 7-Eleven stores in North America. The Odessa, Texas-based company currently operates 172 stores in Abilene, Big Spring, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland, Odessa and Wichita Falls, Texas, and Albuquerque, N.M. Its mission is to expand the convenience store customer's shopping experience by combining quality service with cutting-edge technology.

    Since SCS's creation in 1993, the company has concentrated on making capital improvements to member stores. Beverage upgrades and pay-at-the-pump credit-card technology are among the additions. Alon acquired the units in 2000.

    SCS's most recent upgrade is the introduction of Cellerate, a breakthrough technology that converts any common cell phone into an electronic wallet for purchasing gasoline, fast food, vended items and more, at two of SCS's 7-Eleven stores in Lubbock, Texas. ALON launched Cellerate Oct. 3.

    SCS sells FINA brand gasoline, which is produced by Alon in its Big Spring refinery in Texas.

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