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    Simon Holdings Snares 50 Clark Stores

    The Midwest company now operates and distributes to more than 200 stores in three states.

    OAK BROOK, Ill. -- One day after retaining National Real Estate Clearinghouse (NRC) to auction off most of its convenience stores, Clark Retail Enterprises Inc. said it reached a deal with Taylor, Mich.-based Simon Holdings Inc. to sell a block of more than 50 On the Go and Clark-branded convenience stores and gas stations in Michigan and Ohio.

    The deal also calls for Simon Holdings, Clark's largest petroleum distributor, to acquire the Clark brand license rights for the two-state territory. Terms of the deal, expected to close in June, were not disclosed.

    "The significance of this acquisition is that it will allow us to continue to grow as a company and slowly expand our share of the market," Brian Donnelly, executive vice president of Simon Holdings, said Thursday.

    Through its real estate investment business, Fast Track Ventures, Simon Holdings acquires, develops and operates gasoline and convenience store locations throughout the Midwest. Through its operating companies, Atlas Oil Co. and B&R Oil Co., Simon Holdings also distributes petroleum products to more than 200 commercial customers and gas stations in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, Donnelly said. The company's c-store brands currently include WOW! (pictured), On the Go and Atlas.

    Over the past 14 months, Simon Holdings has acquired 23 gas stations and convenience store from bankrupt Clark Retail, which was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. Clark yesterday announced it had retained NRC to sell 632 Clark convenience store and gasoline stations through a sealed bid sale scheduled for July 1. The auction block does not include Clark's coveted White Hen Pantry stores. Those units will be sold as a separate block, the companies said.

    "The company has a portfolio of very competitive assets and strong name brands," said Clark CEO Brandon Barnholt. "We believe these assets have strategic value for the right operator, as well as upside earnings potential for a company not hindered by Clark's liquidity issues."

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