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Couche-Tard says 77.7% of Statoil shareholders have accepted offer

Pedestrians walk past a Couche-Tard convenience store in Montreal, April 18, 2012.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. says 77.7 per cent of Statoil Fuel and Retail shareholders have accepted its takeover offer, up from 66.7 per cent three weeks ago, after a large shareholder agreed to the bid on Tuesday

The company that owns Mac's and Couche-Tard convenience stores in Canada and Circle K gas bars in the United States declined to identify the shareholder, but said it was "very confident" that the remaining Statoil shareholders will come on board by its June 20 deadline.

On Monday, Couche-Tard issued a statement denying rumours it was likely to increase its offer of 51.20 Norwegian krone.

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The company said it sees no reason by Statoil's shares are trading above the offer price, which it has described as final. The shares were unchanged at 51.50 krone on Tuesday.

Couche-Tard's offer for Statoil Fuel is worth about $2.7-billion.

The retailer, which is North America's second-largest operator of convenience stores, has said the deal will provide a good entry into the European market, with stores throughout the three Scandinavian countries and elsewhere.

It originally wanted to buy at least 90 per cent of Statoil Fuel's stock but dropped that minimum threshold last week.

From the outset, Statoil ASA had agreed to tender its 54-per-cent interest in the gas bar and convenience store operator — so Couche-Tard's focus has been on getting minority shareholders to sell their stock.

The offer is more than 52-per-cent higher than Statoil Fuel's stock price when the deal was announced on April 18.

Three independent evaluations have confirmed that Couche-Tard's $2.68 (U.S.)-billion offer is within the range that reflects the value of the company.

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Statoil Fuel & Retail operates about 2,300 outlets Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

Couche-Tard plans to run Statoil Fuel & Retail as a stand-alone business unit and retain existing management. It has the right to use the Statoil name for eight years.

The friendly deal comes about 18 months after Couche-Tard retreated from its failed hostile bid for Casey's General Stores, an Iowa-based company operating in several Midwest states.

Couche-Tard currently has 5,817 stores in North America operating mostly under the Mac's, Couche-Tard and Circle K banners.

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