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Mergers & Acquisitions

Petrowski Returning to Gulf Oil

Private-equity group closing on deal with Cumberland Gulf Group

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- The family that owns Cumberland Farms, New England’s largest convenience-store chain, is selling its fuel business, Gulf Oil. Joe Petrowski Gulf Oil Cumberland Farms (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

As reported in a 21st Century Smoke/CSP Daily News Flash, in a complex deal, Boston-based private-equity firm ArcLight Capital Partners is acquiring Gulf from the Haseotes family, according to multiple sources.

The deal also returns to Gulf a figure largely credited with reviving the brand over the past dozen years.

According to three sources, Joe Petrowski is partnering with Boston-based ArcLight, which has helped spur master limited partnerships (MLPs) in crude oil and natural gas.

“The timing makes sense,” a person familiar with the deal told CSP Daily News. “The Haseotes family is getting a handsome return on their investment and Joe [Petrowski] has remained interested in Gulf even after he left.”

Petrowski joined Cumberland Farms in 2005 as CEO of the Gulf side. After leaving the company in 2013, he formed Mercantor Partners, an energy investment company based near Cumberland Farms’ backyard of Framingham, Mass.

According to a source, Cumberland Farms’ decision to sell was charged by higher multiples buoyed by historic-low interest rates and a rise of MLPs in the downstream and convenience landscape. The source said Cumberland Farms decided last fall to entertain bids for the Gulf brand and received interest from several MLPs.

Gulf’s deal, expected to be worth more than $1 billion, comes after the convenience-store and retail petroleum segments witnessed three multi-billion dollar acquisitions in 2014, and increased leverage of several MLPs led by Texas giants Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), Dallas, and CST Brands, San Antonio.

When reached for comment last week, Cumberland Farms CEO Ari Haseotes declined comment, as did Petrowski.

Once finalized, the deal will mark a major turning point for Cumberland Farms and the Haseotes family. Vasilios and Aphrodite Haseotes launched Cumberland Farms in 1939 as a small dairy farm that today represents nearly 600 stores across eight states in the Northeast and Florida.

Cumberland Farms’ involvement with Gulf dates back nearly 30 years. In 1986, the company acquired the naming rights to the Gulf Oil brand from Chevron. In 1993, Cumberland Farms entered into a joint venture with Catamount Petroleum to form Gulf Oil LP.

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