7-Eleven in August 2020 entered into an agreement to acquire Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s company-owned convenience-store network Speedway LLC for $21 billion. 7-Eleven’s road to Speedway was not a smooth one, however, although it seems inevitable in hindsight. Despite its parent company’s president, Ryuichi Isaka, calling it “the chance of a lifetime for 7-Eleven Inc.,” in March, Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., the Tokyo-based owner of 7-Eleven Inc., dropped a $22 billion bid to acquire Enon, Ohio-based Speedway, citing the high price and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto says, “We’ve always felt great about the Speedway brand and their organization, and would have pursued them regardless of COVID-19. … “We felt like we knew the assets well,” he says. “We have a lot of respect for that business and the organization.”

After the pandemic pause, Marathon Petroleum returned to the negotiating table in June. 7-Eleven came back, this time with a $21 billion winning bid that snatched Speedway away from top contender Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Laval, Quebec, according to reports. Other bidders included EG Group, Blackburn, U.K. and Murphy USA, El Dorado, Ark., as well as London-based private equity firm TDR Capital.

The companies expect the transaction to close in first-quarter 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Once completed, the business combination will create a more than 13,000-unit retail network combining the No. 1 and No. 3 c-store chains in the United States.

7-Eleven has formed an executive committee that includes DePinto and Speedway CEO Tim Griffith, and an integration committee with representatives from both companies. When the acquisition closes, the companies will determine and share best practices, and the combination will position the chains to maximize efficiencies and optimize relationships with vendors and business partners, he says.

Speedway and 7-Eleven have complementary geographic footprints with little overlap. 7-Eleven will have a presence in 47 of the top 50 most populated metropolitan areas in the United States, “positioning the company as a clear industry leader in a fragmented industry with favorable macroeconomic trends,” it says.

In its bid for Speedway, Couche-Tard was prepared to divest 1,250 c-stores to avoid Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust concerns over a deal.

7-Eleven’s share of the U.S. market is about 5.9% of the approximately 153,000 c-stores, he says, and Speedway’s is about 2.6%.