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Sunoco, ETP Merger Gains Shareholder Approval

PHILADELPHIA -- Sunoco shareholders have approved a merger between the locally based company and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) with 97 percent of those voting approving the measure. The final vote came today at a special shareholder meeting in Detroit -- five months after the proposal was announced.

In today's special meeting, shareholders owning a total of 69,613,600 shares voted, representing approximately 66 percent of the shares of Sunoco's common stock outstanding as of the record date for the special meeting. In addition, the holders of a majority of the votes cast at the special meeting also approved, on an advisory (non-binding) basis, the proposal regarding specified compensation paid or payable to Sunoco's named executive officers in connection with the merger, according to a joint release.

ETP and Sunoco expect to close the merger effective tomorrow, Oct. 5. What remains to be seen is what will become of Sunoco's retail network, as CSNews Online previously reported. As recently as two weeks ago, analysts suggested that, in light of the challenges involved in operating profitable gas stations, ETP should sell the 4,900-site network. Various media reports pointed to possible interest from The Pantry Inc., operator of Kangaroo Express; Alimentation Couche-Tard, operator of Circle K stores in the United States; Global Partners, which runs 800 fuel stops in the Northeast under different brands; and QuikTrip Corp.

Several analysts have also pointed out that Sunoco's retail subsidiary is a not a good fit for ETP's pipeline business and would negatively affect its tax structure as a master limited partnership.

ETP CEO Kelcy Warren admitted in the past his company has received several calls expressing interest in Sunoco's c-store/gas station network. However, he added he is "very comfortable" with owning Sunoco's retail division.

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