Casey's Sued Over Couche-Tard Rejection

AKENY, Iowa -- A lawsuit was recently filed against Casey's General Stores Inc. by one of its shareholders, claiming the Midwest convenience store chain is neglecting company stockholders by failing to complete "an appropriate evaluation of all alternatives" as the convenience store chain seeks to block a hostile takeover attempt, the Des Moines Register reported.

West Des Moines attorney J. Barton Goplerud is representing Mount Pleasant veterinarian Richard Howie, and all other similarly situated Casey's shareholders, according to the report. The would-be class action asks a Polk County judge to block "any material transactions or changes to Casey's business and assets unless and until a proper process is conducted to evaluate Casey's strategic alternatives under the supervision of the court," the newspaper reported. Casey's also faces a similar Polk County class-action lawsuit filed by a separate lawyer in April.

Bill Walljasper, chief financial officer for Casey's, declined to comment to the Register.

Documents in the latest case claim Casey's chief executive and board members have breached their fiduciary duty to shareholders by refusing to negotiate with Alimentation Couche-Tard, which initially issued a $36 per share bid in 2009, later bringing the offer to shareholders in April 2010 when the company rejected the proposal.

Casey's leaders contend the $1.9 billion offer is too low.

"A fully negotiated transaction will likely deliver higher value for Casey's stockholders than a hostile acquisition," according to court documents cited by the paper. "The board is obligated to negotiate and explore Couche-Tard's offer in order to define what course is in the best interests of Casey's public stockholders."

The lawsuit comes one day after ClearBridge Advisors, a longtime Casey's shareholder, urged the retailer to open negotiations with Couche-Tard.

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