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    RMX/C-StoreMatrix Deal Collapses

    C-StoreMatrix, an online exchange backed by NACS, could shut down, sources say.

    The strategic alliance between two convenience store online exchanges is history.

    Sources have told CSNews Online that the union between C-StoreMatrix.com and RetailersMarketXchange (RMX) has severed less than six months after its much-ballyhooed announcement. The fracture, said multiple sources familiar with the deal, could also spell the demise of C-StoreMatrix, which was co-founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

    NACS was unavailable for comment.

    "C-StoreMatrix is almost as good as gone," said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ties with both organizations. "From what I understand, they've run out of capital and aren't going anywhere." He added that barring a sudden infusion of cash, he expected C-StoreMatrix to shut down operations in 30 to 45 days.

    Ken McElrath, vice president of marketing for Concord, Calif.-based RMX, confirmed to CSNews Online that consummation of the deal is unlikely. "Both companies have been moving forward in good faith to pursue a relationship that would be mutually beneficial for our constituents and their constituents, but we have not been able to work out a deal." he said.

    McElrath emphasized that RMX has not been told by the C-StoreMatrix board that it doesn't want to pursue a deal either. "At the very least we would like to maintain a relationship that is amiable and could lead to a strategic alliance down the road," he said.

    Analysts have long said that RMX was much further along in development than C-StoreMatrix and that only one c-store exchange would be likely to succeed.

    RMX has wasted little time awaiting NACS's decision. The company recently signed a multi-year contract to build a communications infrastructure for Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC., which holds a marketing network of 6,000 locations. RMX already provides a similar service for Chevron Corp., which, along with the McLane Co. Inc. and Philip Morris USA, are financial backers of RMX. The company reached a similar deal with Miller Brewing Co., a holding of Phillip Morris Cos.

    RMX said it is closely monitoring the merger negotiations between its co-founder Chevron and White Plains, N.Y.-based Texaco Inc. The merger is expected to close in early October. "As soon Chevron and Texaco are able to solidify that deal we will explore any new opportunities as they become available," McElrath said.

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