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    Couche-Tard Expands Again in U.S. Midwest

    Canadian convenience chain acquires 43 Clark Retail Enterprises stores for $24.5 million.

    LAVAL, Quebec -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., continuing its expansion in the U.S. convenience store sector, has agreed to pay $24.5 million for 43 locations in the Midwest owned by Clark Retail Enterprises Inc.

    Couche-Tard, whose Canadian banners include Mac's, Becker's, Mike's Mart, Provi-Soir and Wink's, entered the U.S. Midwest two years ago, where today are located approximately 680 of its more than 2,400 outlets. Most of those Midwest units were acquired last year from bankrupt Dairy Mart Convenience Stores Inc. The U.S. stores are operated under Couche-Tard's U.S. subsidiary, Mac's Convenience Stores LLC.

    The 43 Clark locations have c-stores and fuel pumps. Thirty-three are in Illinois, with the rest in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. Couche-Tard said Monday the $24.5-million acquisition would be financed by a bank loan. As part of the deal, Couche-Tard would acquire the buildings and land of 31 of these sites, with the 12 others being leased. Last year, the stores generated sales of approximately $140 million annually and operating income (EBITDA) of about $4.5 million.

    The transaction is subject to approval by a Chicago bankruptcy court, where Clark Retail Enterprises filed last October for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.

    "We had the opportunity to make a selective offer and these 43 stores are of great interest to us as they would strengthen our presence in Illinois and would fit in perfectly with our network in the Midwest," Alain Bouchard, chairman and chief executive of Couche-Tard said in a statement. "They are all excellent, strategically located sites that generate strong sales of both consumer products and gasoline."

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