WASHINGTON — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and its former affiliate, CrossAmerica Partners LP, have agreed to pay a $3.5 million civil penalty to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to settle allegations that they violated a 2018 order requiring divestitures of 10 retail fuel stations in Minnesota and Wisconsin to commission-approved buyers no later than June 15, 2018.
The 2018 order settled FTC charges that Couche-Tard’s and CrossAmerica’s acquisition from Holiday Cos. of approximately 380 retail fuel stations with convenience stores in 10 states was anticompetitive because it would have increased the risk of both unilateral and coordinated anticompetitive effects in 10 local retail fuel markets.
The FTC alleges that the companies violated the 2018 order by:
- Failing to divest to one or more commission-approved buyers by June 15, 2018, stations in the Minnesota markets of Aitkin, Hibbing, Minnetonka, Mora, St. Paul, and St. Peter; and the Wisconsin markets of Hayward, Siren and Spooner.
- Failing to maintain the viability, marketability and competitiveness of the Hibbing station, and failing to divest it as an ongoing business.
- Failing to provide accurate and detailed information in compliance reports submitted in March, April and May of 2018 about their efforts to divest the stations.
- Failing, in compliance reports from June 18, 2018, through at least June 19, 2019, to provide a full description of efforts to comply with the 2018 order to maintain the Hibbing station.
Couche-Tard declined to comment to CSP Daily News on the settlement.
Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard is No. 2 on CSP’s 2020 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by size. Its network consists of about 9,900 c-stores in North America, approximately 6,000 in 48 U.S. states under the Circle K and Holiday Stationstores banners, and the rest in all 10 provinces in Canada under the Circle K and Couche-Tard banners. In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a retail network in Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia of approximately 2,700 stores. Also, licensees operate about 2,400 stores under the Circle K banner in 16 other countries and territories (Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guam, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jamaica, Macau, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam), which brings its worldwide total network to more than 14,800 stores.
CrossAmerica is a wholesale distributor of motor fuels and owner and lessee of real estate used in the retail distribution of motor fuels. Its general partner, CrossAmerica GP LLC, is indirectly owned and controlled by entities affiliated with Joe Topper Jr., the founder of CrossAmerica Partners and a member of the general partner since 2012. The Allentown, Pa.-based company distributes fuel to approximately 1,300 locations and owns or leases more than 1,000 sites. Its geographic footprint covers 31 states.