7-Eleven Makes Casey's Bid '

"Mystery bidder" revealed; offers $40 a Share for Casey's: WSJ

DALLAS -- "Couche-Tard has met its match," Ben Brownlow, analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co., told the Canadian Press, commenting on the newsreported by The Wall Street Journal late yesterdaythat 7-Eleven Inc. has offered $40 a share, or $2.03 billion, to acquire Casey's General Stores Inc., citing people familiar with the matter.

The public relations firm representing Casey's offered no comment on 7-Eleven's involvement; however, an independent source close to Casey's confirmed for CSP Daily News that 7-Eleven did submit its bid September 2. And 7-Eleven [image-nocss] spokesperson Margaret Chabris told CSP Daily News, "The company has no comment on this matter."

She also told the Canadian Press, "We are a growth company, and we have been growing over the past few years."

As reported in a Morgan Keegan/CSP Daily News Flash on Wednesday, 7-Eleven's offer tops the $38.50 per share offered by Canadian c-store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.

Casey's said on Tuesday it had received an unsolicited, nonbinding offer on September. 2 from an unnamed party and it was entering into talks, even though it considered the $40-per-share bid too low to complete a deal. But it was enough to begin negotiations, and talks are in the early stages, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper.

Couche-Tard criticized Casey's decisions to enter into talks and questioned the timing, given an upcoming shareholder vote on Casey's directors set for September 23. Couche-Tard has nominated a slate of eight directors to replace the entire Casey's board.

"We believe this is another maneuver orchestrated by the Casey's board to artificially inflate its stock price leading up to the shareholder vote," Couche-Tard said in a statement. It has not officially acknowledged the entry of 7-Eleven into the mix.

Brownlow said 7-Eleven is North America's biggest c-store chain and has the resources and the staying power if it comes to a bidding war. ""Couche-Tard has met its match.... Yes, Couche-Tard could still pull it off, but I would say that 7-Eleven at this point wants it more, given that their opening offer is $40," he added.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard operates a network of 5,878 c-stores, 4,141 of which include motor fuels dispensinglocated in 11 large geographic markets, including eight in the United States (operating primarily under the Circle K name) covering 43 states and the District of Columbia, and three in Canada (operating primarily under the Mac's and Couche-Tard names) covering all 10 provinces.

7-Eleven is a private company, a unit of Seven-Eleven Japan Co., which in turn is owned by Seven & I Holdings Co. Itacquired a controlling share in the company in 1991 and acquired the remaining 27.3% stake in 2005 for $1.18 billion. The North America division of the business is headquartered in Dallas. The company operates, franchises or licenses approximately 8,200 stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 38,000 stores in 16 countries. During 2009, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $58.9 billion.

Casey's has 1,531 stores as of June 30, 2010. The Ankeny, Iowa-based company and its wholly owned subsidiaries operate c-stores under the name Casey's General Store, HandiMart and Just Diesel in nine Midwestern states, primarily Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. The stores carry a broad selection of food (including freshly prepared foods such as pizza, donuts and sandwiches), beverages, tobacco products, health and beauty aids, automotive products and other nonfood items. In addition, all of its stores offer gasoline.

(Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of Casey's and Couche-Tard.)