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    Hess Acquires 20 DB Marts

    Company raises bid $1.5 million after last-minute offer by Cumberland Farms.

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A federal bankruptcy court judge approved the sale of 20 DB Mart convenience stores and gas stations to Amerada Hess Corp. for $19.5 million, reported the Providence Journal.

    The stores were auctioned off by Pawtucket, R.I.-based DB Cos. last month. Yesterday, CSNews reported that Getty Properties Corp.'s purchase of 35 stores for $24.8 million was also approved.

    Hess originally had bid $18 million for the 20 stores last month. However, it raised its offer by $1.5 million this week after Cumberland Farms made a last-minute offer to beat Hess and Getty's combined bid by $5 million, according to Dan Cohn, the DB attorney.

    Company directors decided not to pursue the Cumberland Farms bid, Cohn said, because the auction had ended and the company had already selected Hess and Getty as the winning bidders. "It presented enormous risks for the company," Cohn said. Hess and Getty "conceivably could have gone to court to block our closing with Cumberland," he said.

    Hess raised its bid at the request of DB lawyers and investment bankers "to make it easier for the board" to decline Cumberland Farms' offer, he said.

    A group of 24 stores, including five in Rhode Island, were purchased by Naeem Khalid, who is a principal in Sam's Food Store Corp., a convenience store chain based in Southington, Conn. Khalid could not be reached yesterday for comment.

    Some DeBlois family shareholders objected to the sale, questioning whether liquidating the company was the best solution to its money troubles. The judge overruled those objections, according to their attorney, Joseph Ferrucci.

    The money from the sales will be put into an escrow account and a hearing will be held in bankruptcy court Sept. 22 on how to disperse that money.

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