Mergers & Acquisitions

Top 101 Chains Reshuffling

At midyear, industry acquisitions poised to reshape CSP’s c-store rankings

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- Six months after CSP launched its inaugural Convenience Top 101, nearly a dozen entries in the list of the largest convenience-store chains in the United States and Canada have seen major acquisition activity, ensuring a major shakeup to next year’s list.

CSP's Convenience Top 101

At this midpoint in the year, CSP Daily News offers this snapshot of where some of the major players in the industry stand today. Key among them:

Financial advisor Greg Landry sees much of the megamerger activity stemming from companies looking for strategic synergies. “The trend I’m seeing is of current operators looking for synergies, economies of scale,” the managing partner of Capital Insight LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., told CSP Daily News. “I’m seeing acquisitions made for strategic purposes.”

Although so-called “financial buyers” building new platforms are also entering the market, he believes most of the recent activity has come from seasoned channel players looking to better their businesses.

“I do know of a couple of groups putting platforms together,” Landry said. “But they’re former operators who’ve built platforms and sold them in the past and are out there doing it again.”

Another factor in play is renewed interest from lenders, he said. “I’ve seen more financial buyers because there are more lenders in the C&G [convenience and gasoline channel] who were not in the space before. In recent years, we went through a drought, when there were no lenders. And now the industry is back in favor, with a number of lenders returning.”

Here’s a recap of large, recent acquisitions from 2014:

  • Fortress Investment Group buys United Oil (No. 59). Earlier this month, the New York-based investment management firm bought United Oil, Gardena, Calif., in a deal that included 130 sites in the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas. Unconfirmed reports put the acquisition in the $500 million range.
  • Par Petroleum Corp. buys Mid Pac Petroleum. The Honolulu based companies secured the $107 million deal for 80 stores in early June.
  • Speedway (No. 6) buys Hess (No. 7). In a $2.87 billion deal announced in May, Enon, Ohio-based Speedway LLC bought Woodbridge, N.J.-based Hess Corp. that created a 2,700 network of company-owned and operated locations in 23 states.
  • Lehigh Gas (No. 50) makes two large purchases. Allentown, Pa.-based Lehigh Gas Partners LP in late April bought Roanoke, Va.-based Petroleum Marketers Inc. (No. 83), which consisted of 85 stores, for $61 million. Earlier in the month, Lehigh announced the acquisition of Taylor, Mich.-based Atlas Oil Co.’s BP-branded assets in Chicago and northwestern Indiana, which included 55 wholesale supply contracts, 11 fee or leasehold sites, two commission marketing contracts and certain other assets for a total consideration of $38.5 million.
  • Energy Transfer Partners (ETP)/Sunoco (No. 15) buys Susser Holdings (No. 17). In the $1.8 billion deal announced in April, Dallas-based ETP picked up 630 Susser company-operated locations, adding to its chain of 553. Tossing in dealer-owned-and-operated locations, the grand total will hit a mind-boggling 6,398 locations.

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