Marathon Sells Ownership in Pilot Travel Centers

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Marathon Sells Ownership in Pilot Travel Centers

HOUSTON and KNOXVILLE -- In a deal valued at $700 million, Marathon Oil Corp. will sell its 50 percent ownership interest in Pilot Travel Centers LLC to Pilot Corp.

"We’re working to achieve full corporate view of our assets," Marathon spokesperson Lee Warren told CSNews Online. In March, the company revealed plans to sell between $2 billion and $4 billion in assets by mid-year 2009. "This deal brings us to $1.1 billion," Warren told CSNews Online.

Formed in 2001, Pilot Travel Centers (PTC) operates the largest travel center network in the United States with more than 275 locations in 40 states and one in Ontario, Canada. The company also licenses its trademark to 18 locations in four states.

"When Marathon and Pilot Corp. joined together to form PTC in 2001, we had a shared vision of creating the leading travel center network in the U.S. Through the outstanding relationship we have enjoyed with Pilot Corp. and its owners, the Haslam family, we have realized that vision and in the process, created substantial value for both of our companies," Gary R. Heminger, Marathon executive vice president and president of the company’s refining, marketing and transportation operations, said in a statement. "Marathon’s decision to sell its interest in PTC is part of our ongoing review of Marathon’s global asset portfolio, and is an appropriate time to capture the value created by this partnership."

In related news, CVC Capital Partners will acquire a 47.5 percent interest in PTC, forming an equal governance partnership with Pilot Corp., wholly owned by the Haslam family.

"We selected CVC Capital Partners as our new teammate for three reasons. First, it will give us access to a tremendous amount of capital. Second, the folks there are very smart. And third, they have an excellent reputation both in the United States and around the world," Pilot Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. "We believe our partnership with CVC will enable Pilot Travel Centers to remain a vibrant, growing entity and to capitalize on opportunities our industry will present over the next few years."

CVC’s investment and the new ownership structure—whereby Pilot Corp. will own 52.5 percent of PTC—facilitates the sale by Marathon Oil Corp. of its interest in PTC, which it held since PTC was formed in 2001, noted Christopher J. Stadler, managing partner of CVC’s U.S. business.

"Pilot has become the industry leader by growing organically and through acquisition," Stadler, managing partner of CVC’s U.S. business, said in a statement. "It has world-class management systems and fuel supply infrastructure, which has led to strong operating performance in all market conditions. We look forward to a long and rewarding partnership with PTC's management and the Haslam family."