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Denmark Deal Grows Couche-Tard's International Footprint

LAVAL, Quebec — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is on an acquisition streak, making its third move this week. The latest deal is for Shell's marketing operations in Denmark.

The agreement with A/S Dansk Shell gives Canada-based Couche-Tard its retail, commercial fleet, commercial fuels, aviation and connected trading & supply products businesses. The businesses will be managed by Statoil Fuel and Retail A/S (SFR), a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Couche-Tard.

Shell's Danish retail business comprises 315 sites, of which 225 are full-service stations, 75 are automated fuel stations and 15 are truck stops. Of the 315 sites, 140 are owned by Shell, 115 are leased from third parties, and 60 are dealer-owned.

As part of the transaction, Couche-Tard will have the right to use the Shell brand in Denmark for up to 10 years under a trademark license agreement.

"In 2012, after the acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail AS, we declared that SFR would be 'our platform for growth in Europe.' Following the integration of SFR into Couche-Tard, we are now pleased to take this next step forward in the European market," said Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard.

Jacob Schram, Couche-Tard's Group President Europe, added: "This acquisition would be a great addition to our network in Scandinavia. It represents an excellent strategic fit for our business."

The sale is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed later this year. The acquisition would be financed from Couche-Tard's available cash and existing credit facilities. Neither company disclosed a purchase price.

"Shell Denmark operates an attractive fuel network with good locations, well-upgraded forecourts and a professional team that would complement our existing business in Denmark," said Hans-Olav Høidahl, executive vice president, Scandinavia, at Statoil Fuel & Retail A/S. "We look forward to welcoming Shell Denmark to the Couche-Tard family."

The agreement does not include Shell's upstream business in Denmark. Separately, the oil company is seeking a buyer for its Fredericia refinery.

The agreement with Shell comes one day after Couche-Tard closed on its approximately $1.7-billion acquisition of Cary, N.C.-based The Pantry Inc. Also on Monday, Couche-Tard's Circle K U.S. division agreed to purchase 21 convenience stores, 151 dealer fuel supply agreements and five development properties from Cinco J Inc. (d.b.a. Johnson Oil Co.), Tiger Tote Food Stores and their affiliates. That transaction is expected to close by July 19, as CSNews Online previously reported.

With the closing of The Pantry transaction, Couche-Tard's network now comprises more than 7,800 convenience stores throughout North America.

In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark), Poland, the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Russia, which comprises more than 2,200 stores.

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