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    Couche-Tard May Buy BP Assets from Sell-Off

    The companies share some markets.

    LAVAL, Quebec -- An official from Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., operator of more than 5,600 convenience stores in North America, told the Canadian Press the company is interested in purchasing some of the more than 700 convenience stores BP plans to sell in the U.S. during the next two years.

    The Canadian retailer said it is interested because it operates in some of the same markets as the BP company-owned and -operated stores that are going up for sale, the report stated.

    Richard Fortin, Couche-Tard's chief financial officer, told the Canadian Press it wasn’t aware of BP's specific plan for its gas station network, but considers all opportunities for acquisitions as part of its expansion plans for the U.S.

    CSNews Online reported Friday that BP's U.S. convenience retail unit will sell all of its company-owned and -operated convenience stores, mostly to franchisees, while some will also be sold to dealers and large distributors. Currently, about 95 percent of BP retail sites are operated by independent business people, according to the company.

    The sale of the more than 700 stores will be completed during the next two years, and will continue to market BP fuels in the eastern U.S., and ARCO fuels in the western U.S., the company stated. The franchise agreements will be for 20 years and requires sites to be supplied with BP or ARCO branded fuels for the term of the contract, according to the company.

    Couche-Tard has bought stations from BP in the past. CSNews Online reported in October 2005 that the Canadian retailer purchased 26 convenience stores in the Memphis, Tenn., area from BP Products North America Inc.

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