FINDLAY, Ohio —Just a week after Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) pushed back a likely spinoff date for Speedway LLC, a new report in the Wall Street Journal suggests the company has returned to the negotiating table, this time with Alimentation Couche-Tard as a likely suitor. MPC is again in talks with potential buyers for its retail fuel and convenience-store subsidiary, the report said.
The discussions follow negotiations in February with Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., the Tokyo-based parent company of 7-Eleven Inc., Irving, Texas, for Seven & i to acquire Speedway for approximately $22 billion. Seven & i dropped its bid in March, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Findlay, Ohio-based MPC is moving ahead with plans to spin off Speedway into an independent, publicly traded company, although it has moved the target date for the separation from fourth-quarter 2020 to “early 2021” because of concerns over the pandemic, it said.
Possible buyers for Speedway include Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard, people familiar with the matter told the Journal. MPC indicated last fall that it could be worth between $15 billion and $18 billion.
Any deal for Speedway is likely weeks away, the newspaper said. A sale will shake up the ranking of the biggest convenience-store and fuel retailers in the country at its very top.
MPC is an integrated, downstream energy company that operates 16 refineries. Its marketing system includes Marathon-branded dealer sites across the United States and Enon, Ohio-based Speedway, which owns and operates a network of nearly 4,000 c-stores.
MPC’s Speedway is No. 3 on CSP's just-released 2020 Top 202 ranking of U.S. convenience-store chains by total number of retail outlets. 7-Eleven, with close to 9,400 stores, is No. 1; Couche-Tard, with more than 5,900 Circle K and Holiday Stationstore sites, is No. 2. By acquiring Speedway’s 3,900 stores, Couche-Tard would wrest the top slot from 7-Eleven and begin closing in on 10,000 locations. The next largest chain is Casey’s General Stores Inc., Ankeny, Iowa, with approximately 2,200 stores.
- Click here to view CSP’s full 2020 Top 2020 report.
Prompted by activist investors, as well as an ongoing evaluation of its business units, MPC began a strategic review of Speedway in 2017. Based on a recommendation from an independent committee, MPC decided to keep Speedway as an integrated business unit. By late 2019, however, continuing investor pressure and changes in the marketplace prompted it to decide to spin off the retail unit. In January, MPC also began exploring a sale of Speedway rather than a spinoff, and attracted several other major buyers, including Blackburn, U.K.-based c-store retailer EG Group, which through EG America LLC (No. 5 on CSP’s Top 202 ranking with nearly 1,700 stores), owns the Westborough, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms c-store chain.