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OSLO, Norway -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. confirmed this morning that the convenience store chain will officially purchase Statoil Fuel & Retail ASA (SFR). SFR will soon become Couche-Tard's European operating arm.
According to Alain Bouchard, CEO of Couche-Tard, nearly 97 percent of SFR shareholders tendered their shares as an acceptance of the acquisition terms. Couche-Tard is paying $2.679 billion for SFR, a large c-store chain in Scandinavia, Poland, Russia and some other eastern European countries.
"It's a very exciting time for us," Bouchard said during a conference call today. "The mood is great. It will be a great adventure for all of us…We will see the benefits of this acquisition for years to come."
Although the deal is official, Couche-Tard must take some final steps to close the acquisition. That includes applications to receive final government regulatory approvals, which Couche-Tard expects to receive. Couche-Tard has already surpassed the 90-percent share threshold that the Norwegian Securities and Trading Act requires.
In addition, the Laval, Quebec-based c-store chain and parent of Circle K stores in the United States will begin to "squeeze out" the remaining 3 percent of Statoil shares that were not voluntarily tendered during an offer period that expired yesterday. According to Bouchard, Couche-Tard must begin that process by July 24, but added it would be done "much sooner."
Due to the squeeze out process and final regulatory approvals, the acquisition may not be fully consummated for two to three months, Couche-Tard's CEO added.
According to SFR CEO Jacob Schram, his company has achieved many milestones during its storied history, and the Couche-Tard acquisition marks a new one.
"We will focus on growing in Europe," the CEO of the Stavenger, Norway-based company said in this morning's conference call. "…In Scandinavia, we have a dominant position [in the c-store space]. So it's hard to grow there. But we can grow in several other places, including Denmark."
Looking ahead, Bouchard said he would look to expand into new European countries as well. However, he stressed that Couche-Tard will not solely look into European expansion and acquisitions.
"We are still looking into North American acquisitions," Couche-Tard's CEO noted.