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Metis Nears Sale of U.S. Gas Station Stake

RICHMOND, Va. -- Israeli company Metis Capital Ltd., which engaged in a hostile takeover last year of Ameris Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiary, Petro Group Ltd. -- owner of Fas Mart operator GPM Investments -- is moving forward in its previously announced sale of its stake in Petro Group Ltd. to Australian gas station and convenience store operator United Petroleum pty Ltd., Gobles Online reported.

Metis Capital chairman Amnon Barzilai told Globes: "We're now embarking on a new road. We will now have a lot of cash, to which the proceeds of our fuel business will be added, and we'll begin new businesses."

Petro Group's GPM Investments owns 350 gas stations in the U.S. under the Fas Mart, Shore Stop and Double Kwik brands. In January 2009, Metis Capital Ltd. attempted the hostile takeover by purchasing 986,141 shares of Petro Group, bringing its total to 1.8 million shares, or 11.7 percent of the company, CSNews Online reported at the time.

"This will be the fourth or fifth time our parent has changed hands since 2003," Dave McComas, CEO of GPM Investments, told CSNews Online when the sale was revealed earlier this month. "This is an opportunity for Metis to sell the stock they've acquired and make a profit."

If the deal is completed, McComas didn't anticipate any effect on the convenience store company's day-to-day business.

"On a positive note, the company looking to make the acquisition is in the business, so it's exciting for us to potentially have a parent in the retail fuel business," he added at the time.

The deal was reportedly worth NIS 120 million ($32.2 million U.S.).

"Petro Group owns 350 gas stations. The company can be developed both in terms of the number of gas stations, and by entering the refining business," Metis Chairman Amnon Barzilai told Globes Online when the deal was announced in early January. "We've decided to make a 'turn', so we've put up all of Metis' assets for sale. When there's a profit, take it and run, that's our policy. We've decided to sell everything because we now have an opportunity. We intend to take over a large income-producing real estate company in the U.S."

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