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    El Paso Leaving C-Stores

    Energy giant shows little interest in Coastal Marts.

    HOUSTON - Natural gas and utility giant El Paso Corp., which assumed a bevy of convenience stores when it acquired Coastal Corp. for $24 billion last year, is officially pulling out of the c-store business, Convenience Store News has learned.

    Norma Dunn, senior vice president of public relations, told CSNews Online that the company was divesting stores in a number of sell-offs often dictated by geography. "All I can tell you is we?re in the process of getting out of the (c-store)business. They were part of a bigger acquisition," she said, alluding to the company's acquisition of Coastal's natural gas business.

    While El Paso took over 376 Coast Marts in more than 20 states when it closed on the transaction, its primary interest was in the takeover of Coastal's four refineries and a branded dealer and jobber network of more than 1,000 stores. {El Paso placed 30th in CSNews Top 50 last year.}

    From the outset, it was clear El Paso was focused on the natural gas portion. Last June, the company entered into an agreement with Sunoco Inc., in which the Philadelphia-based refiner and marketer assumed supply contracts with 24 Coastal distributors a network of 163 sites in southeastern U.S. Sunoco also acquired 65 Coastal Marts.

    The company, which ranked 17th in last year?s Fortune 500, reported annual sales of nearly $57.5 billion last year and net income of $93 million.

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