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High's Refocusing Retail

Chain sells 20 direct-op stores to focus on Baltimore-D.C. corridor units, with more coming
HANOVER, Md. -- In a move that will allow the company to refocus its efforts on its core assets and to open new stores, High's of Baltimore Inc. has sold its retail assets to multiple unnamed buyers, including national consolidators, regional jobbers and individual store operators. High's directly operated all of the units. Fee-simple real-estate interests in three units and leasehold interests in 17 units were conveyed to the buyers.

"The justification of locations and reallocation of capital to maximize potential return is a process that chains should periodically perform," [image-nocss] said Brian Darnell, principal and vice president of real estate for High's. "It has also allowed us to refocus on our core assets."

Hanover, Md.-based High's is a family-owned chain of more than 70 convenience stores, most located in Maryland, with one in Delaware. The stores sell CITGO and Shell gasoline and offer the full variety of convenience merchandise across all categories, including High's own brand of milk, eggnog, cheeses, sour cream, ice cream and other dairy products.

As reported yesterday in a Morgan Keegan/CSP Daily News Flash, the purpose of the sale was to allow High's to redeploy capital to its remaining and new-to-industry retail units, comprised of 46 high-volume convenience stores located in highly populated areas of the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., corridor.

High's prefers not to reveal the names of the purchasers at this time, Tom Kelso, managing director and head of Matrix Capital Markets Group Inc.'s Energy & Multi-Site Retail Group, told CSP Daily News.

Richmond, Va.-based Matrix provided merger and acquisition advisory services to High's, which included valuation advisory, asset marketing through a customized structured sale process and negotiation of the transactions. The transaction was managed by Kelso, as well as Spencer Cavalier, director; Matt Murphy, senior associate; and Sean Dooley, senior analyst.

Cavalier said, "Matrix has been providing valuation guidance to High's shareholders since 2003, which allowed High's to time the marketing of these properties in order to achieve maximum value. We believe High's consistent focus on the assessment and proper allocation of capital is a primary reason the retail chain has continued to grow and thrive. We have enjoyed working with High's over the years and greatly appreciate the opportunity to structure and execute these transactions."

Matrix is a national leader in providing transactional advisory services to companies in the downstream energy and multi-site retail sectors including c-store chains, petroleum marketers, fuels distributors, retail propane distributors, heating oil distributors, lubes retailers and distributors, terminal operators, fuels transportation companies, hospitality companies and other specialty retail chains.

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