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HOUSTON — Energy Transfer Equity LP held talks early this year to sell convenience store operator Sunoco LP, three people with inside knowledge told Reuters.
At least one interested party contacted Energy Transfer Equity, the news outlet reported. Reuters could not confirm the interested parties, but identified Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. as “logical buyers.” A Couche-Tard spokesman said the company is always on the hunt for acquisitions, but would not confirm it held any talks regarding Sunoco.
Valero and Tesoro declined comment when reached by the news source.
If Energy Transfer Equity decides to sell its stake in the Houston-based c-store operator, its ownership in the company could be valued at more than $2 billion, the inside sources said. A deal could also include the 36.4-percent stake in Sunoco that's owned by sister company Energy Transfer Partners LP.
Reuters stressed the acquisition talks were only in a preliminary stage and have not yet advanced any further because of disagreements regarding Sunoco’s proper valuation. However, it added Energy Transfer Equity could revisit talks if it receives new interest.
A move to sell Sunoco comes from Energy Transfer Equity’s desire to improve its balance sheet, the news source reported. The master limited partnership recently announced an agreement to acquire Williams Co. Inc., which could be “more financially burdensome than it previously envisioned,” the report added.