CST Brands Finds a Nice & Easy Deal

SAN ANTONIO -- CST Brands Inc. is on an acquisition roll, with Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes becoming the newest cog in its wheel.

San Antonio-based CST Brands announced Wednesday that it signed a definitive agreement to acquire the convenience store assets, franchisor rights and associated trademarks of Canastota, N.Y.-based Nice N Easy. 

Nice N Easy's operations include 33 company-operated stores along with 44 franchise locations in central New York. The retailer is a leader in c-store foodservice, featuring its own Easy Street Eatery concept in many of its corporate stores.

This acquisition will give CST Brands a foothold into a new geographical territory, providing an additional area of growth for its new-to-industry stores, adjacent to its Canadian network of sites, according to a news release.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including satisfactory completion of due diligence, and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"Our stores across the United States and Canada share a lot in common with Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, making this a great match culturally and a prime opportunity for CST Brands to enter into new markets," said Kim Bowers, chairman and CEO of CST Brands. "Both Nice N Easy and CST Brands are committed to great people, loyal customers and strong community ties, and we look forward to delighting more customers every day together."

Nice N Easy engaged NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC in fall 2013 to serve as exclusive financial advisor to evaluate various strategic options available to the company. As a result of that analysis, the company elected to explore its sale as a whole. Nice N Easy commenced a sale process early this year, which culminated in the agreement with CST Brands. 

Fran Duskiewicz, president and CEO of Nice N Easy, added: "Nice N Easy's founder, the late John MacDougall, started this process a year ago with very specific provisions about the sale that would protect the Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes name, image, people and his legacy. It is bittersweet that we have reached this point without him, with us to enjoy the potential growth of our program that we believe CST Brands will provide. Company culture is everything to us, and we've made a decision that will allow that culture to continue and grow with a group with whom we share many business philosophies."

This news comes exactly two weeks after CST Brands' Aug. 6 announcement that it will purchase 100 percent of the membership interests of Lehigh Gas GP LLC, the general partner of Lehigh Gas Partners LP. CST will pay approximately $85 million in the transaction, which includes $17 million in cash and 2.044 million shares of CST common stock, as CSNews Online previously reported. That deal is also expected to close in the fourth quarter.

During CST Brands' 2014 fiscal second-quarter earnings call last week, Bowers said the Lehigh Gas deal would provide the company with plenty of funding under a master limited partnership capital structure, leading to the potential for significant acquisitions in the future. 

CST Brands employs nearly 12,000 employees at nearly 1,900 locations throughout the southwestern United States and eastern Canada.

In the U.S., CST's Corner Stores sell Valero fuels and signature products such as Fresh Choices baked and packaged goods, U Force energy and sport drinks, Cibolo Mountain coffee, FC Soda and Flavors2Go fountain drinks. In Canada, CST is the exclusive provider of Ultramar fuel and its Dépanneur du Coin and Corner Stores sell signature Transit Café coffee and pastries.

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