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    Mansfield Oil Acquires C&N Cos.

    Deal enhances Mansfield's position in ethanol and biodiesel markets.

    GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- Mansfield Oil, a downstream oil company that provides fuel services throughout the U.S. to convenience stores and other retailers, said yesterday it is acquiring C&N Cos., a leading ethanol marketer based in Minneapolis.

    As reported in a CSNews Online newsflash yesterday, Mansfield, which operates 650 bulk terminals and 900 supply points in 48 states, plans to immediately begin marketing C&N products to refiners and blenders.

    C&N was founded by Jon Bjornstad, a former Cenex Petroleum unbranded fuel marketing manager who established C&N in 2000 to produce and market biofuels and ethanol. The company now accounts for more than 500 million gallons of ethanol production at 11 plants in the U.S. and Mexico and 150 million gallons of biodiesel. He will continue in his role as president.

    Bjornstad believes selling to Mansfield will take the company to the "next level," according to Terry Monroe of American Business Brokers, who along with Bill Fecht of WJS Services, served as advisor to C&N on the sale.

    Bjornstad told Ethanol Producers magazine that the acquisition provides an advantage for his ethanol plant customers. "We’re going to be able to tap into 50-plus-year relationships with the blender customers that my ethanol plant customers have in North America," he said. "And that’s really important to my ethanol plant clients as we efficiently and effectively bring their product to market. For our plants, at the end of the day, it’s all about transportation logistics and the ultimate netbacks that they can achieve."

    Doug Haugh, executive vice president and CIO of Mansfield Oil, is leading the transition team. "It’s a substantial investment on our part in the renewable fuels and ethanol business," he said, adding it gives C&N all the tools, resources and support needed to continue growing and representing ethanol facilities.

    The deal greatly enhances the Georgia-based Mansfield’s geographic strength in the Midwest.

    Haugh attributed the company’s growth in ethanol and biodiesel sales to the renewable fuels standard, mandated air quality standard and discretionary blending, according to Ethanol Producers.

    "We think C&N has a fairly unique model for partnering with their producers and doing so in a transparent basis," Haugh said. "It’s very much an open book way of doing business, where both the producer and the buyer, whether it be the refiner or blender, everyone knows exactly what the deal is and how those prices are arrived at and what their participation is going to be and we think folks need to know that, especially with the economic pressure that many of these participants are under today. And that’s really been our way of going to business for the past 50 years."

    Bjornstad reportedly already has a list of ethanol facilities that would like to have C&N market their product, though these will be taken on one at a time to ensure that C&N and Mansfield Oil can provide the best service to the customers.

    According to the report, Mansfield Oil can provide financial certainty that the ethanol producers’ product will get to market and get paid for, Haugh said. "We can really create value for folks and continue to allow Jon [Bjornstad] to expand the business."

    J. Alexander, president of Mansfield, was quoted as saying, "Prior to this transaction, we had many discussions with our refiner partners. And consistently, the message that we received from our refiner partners was that given the substantial amount of physical product that we move on the refine product space and our grasp and understanding of what drives their business, that that is unique from an ethanol marketing perspective. Most of those groups had dealt with C&N and had had excellent service and great reliability and their belief of adding our understanding of the refined product side, that that was going to be a pretty dynamic combination."

    Monroe told CSNews Online one of the reasons the deal worked is that the "personalities of the owners meshed" so well. He predicted several more acquisitions in the oil, refiner and alternative fuel markets would be completed in the coming months.

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