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    Marathon Bids $28 Million on Kiel Bros. C-Stores

    139 Tobacco Road sites located in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

    JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. -- Marathon Oil Co. has offered Kiel Bros. Oil Co. $28 million for 218 properties, including 139 convenience stores in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, reported the Johnson County Daily Journal.

    Kiel Bros., based in Columbus, Ind., has closed nearly half of its convenience stores/gas stations, many of which operated under the Tobacco Road banner. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June because of falling profit margins and because Bulk Petroleum Corp., which had agreed to buy the Columbus company, could not secure financing.

    Gregory Pence, the company's president, resigned in June, and his successor, Greg Roll, said at the time that the vast majority of the company's stores would remain open. Ninety-two of its 210 convenience stores have closed.

    Kiel Bros. has been auctioning its properties through Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Marketplace Advisors.

    Marathon has agreed to purchase 218 properties for $28 million, although other interested parties can still outbid the company until the end of this week, said Gregg Budoi, Marketplace Advisors' senior vice president.

    Jay Jaffe, an attorney with Baker & Daniels in Indianapolis who is handling the bankruptcy for Kiel Bros., said the Columbus company was closing unprofitable stores when it reached the agreement with Marathon, which asked that all stores covered by the agreement be kept open because Marathon wanted to purchase stores that were operating.

    Since the agreement, Kiel Bros. has closed unprofitable stores that were not part of the agreement and for which no bids had been received, Jaffe said.

    Marketplace Advisors, according to its Web site, also has received bids for various other Kiel Bros. properties, including $570,000 for the corporate headquarters at 3801 Tupelo Drive in Columbus.

    Jaffe said the company hopes to close the deals by the end of November.

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