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    Couche-Tard Acquires ExxonMobil Franchised On the Run Stores

    Canadian c-store retailer also purchases 43 Arizona sites.

    LAVAL, Quebec and FAIRFAX, Va. -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. agreed to acquire ExxonMobil's approximately 450-unit On the Run convenience store franchise system in the United States, along with 43 company-owned and -operated ExxonMobil sites in the Phoenix market, the companies said Tuesday.

    "We recognize the outstanding quality of ExxonMobil On the Run franchisees and we are excited to welcome them to the Couche-Tard family," Alain Bouchard, Couche-Tard president and CEO, said in a statement.

    As part of the agreement, Couche-Tard will acquire the franchise agreements for approximately 450 On the Run convenience stores currently operated by ExxonMobil branded fuel dealers and distributors, according to a joint statement. The stores are located in 28 states, primarily east of the Mississippi River, and will continue to be operated by franchisee dealers and distributors of ExxonMobil.

    "This transaction was carefully thought out and negotiated with the long-term interest of franchisees in mind," Kristen Hellmer, a spokesperson for ExxonMobil told CSNews Online. "Our goal was to position the On the Run brand with an expanding franchisor with the ability to strengthen and grow the On the Run franchise system."

    The company "continuously and rigorously assesses our business operations and the opportunities for growth, restructuring, or divestment depending upon fit with our overall strategic marketing objectives," she added. "ExxonMobil will continue to provide support for the On the Run stores until those stations are transitioned out of the direct served business, as part of our previously announced decision to convert our direct-serve stations to branded distributor."

    The transaction is anticipated to close in late May and is subject to standard closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

    "ExxonMobil values the tremendous commitment of its On the Run franchisees in helping to build one of the leading convenience store brands in the industry," noted Ben Soraci, ExxonMobil's director of U.S. Retail Sales.

    Also under the agreement, Couche-Tard will acquire the land and buildings for 33 Phoenix area locations owned by ExxonMobil, and will assume or enter into leases for the remaining 10 locations. The 43 Phoenix sites will be converted to Circle K branded convenience stores, offering Circle K branded fuel.

    "The Phoenix sites are highly visible, located on well-traveled roads, and occupy prime locations within their respective trade areas," said Geoff Haxel, Couche-Tard's Vice-President, Operations, Arizona. "Strategically, this acquisition is an excellent fit with our network and complements our expansion and growth plans for the Arizona Division."

    The purchase price is confidential between the parties. Couche-Tard will fund the acquisition from internal available cash dollars.

    Couche-Tard is the second-largest independent convenience store operator in North America in terms of number of stores. Couche-Tard has a network of 5,444 convenience stores, 3,607 of which include motor fuel dispensing, located in 11 large geographic markets, including eight in the United States covering 33 states and three in Canada covering 10 provinces.

    More than 46,000 people are employed throughout Couche-Tard's retail convenience network and service centers.

    ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company.

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