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7-Eleven Buys Mobil's Retail Business in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia -- 7-Eleven Stores Pty Ltd., the Australian division of 7-Eleven convenience store operator Seven & I, agreed to buy 295 Australian gasoline filling stations from Exxon Mobil Corp., making it the nation's largest independent fuel retailer, BusinessWeek reported.

"This deal with Mobil will build on 7-Eleven's position as the leader in the convenience retailing industry in Australia, taking the number of 7-Eleven stores from 400 to more than 650," Chairman Russell Withers said in an e-mailed statement to BusinessWeek.

On completion of the deal, 7-Eleven is expected to become the third-largest private company operating in the country, the company stated. The acquisition will give 7-Eleven "just under" 10 percent of the retail fuels market, spokeswoman Tracy Hammon said in the report.

Caltex Australia Ltd., Australia's largest oil refiner, abandoned plans last month to buy 302 gas stations from Irvin, Texas-based ExxonMobil for A$300 million ($247 million U.S.), following opposition from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which had concerns that it would lead to higher prices, according to the report.

Independent retailers represented roughly 9 percent of the Australian retail fuel market as of June 30, 2009, according to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission cited in the report. 7-Eleven had about 200 gas stations prior to the ExxonMobil transaction, Hammon said. ExxonMobil had an 11-percent share. Caltex holds 16 percent outright share, and represents another 23 percent through a venture with Woolworths Ltd., according to the report.

Completion of the sale is expected to take several months, Exxon Mobil's Australian unit said in a statement cited by the magazine. The purchase is not subject to approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Melbourne-based 7-Eleven said in a separate statement cited in the report. The companies did not disclose the transaction value.

7-Eleven's acquisition will create an entity with projected sales of more than A$2.84 billion, the company said in the report. It expects sales to exceed A$1.4 billion in the 2010 financial year.

"Mobil is now a relatively small participant in that sector of the market following the extensive rationalization of its company-owned" filling station network, Fuels Director Kim MacMillan said in a statement cited by the magazine. "We continue to be a major fuel wholesaler to the commercial and industrial sectors."

The Australian 7-Eleven is held by the Withers and Barlow families, which brought the brand to Australia in 1976 through a license agreement with the U.S. company, then known as Southland Corp., according to the company Web site, which was cited in the report.

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