LAVAL, Quebec -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. "has burnished its reputation as a tough and disciplined bidder" by succeeding in its protracted takeover of Norway's Statoil Fuel & Retail ASA, according to the Canadian Press.
Some industry observers believed that reputation was tarnished a bit after Couche-Tard retreated from its failed, hostile bid for Ankeny, Iowa-based Midwestern convenience retailer Casey's General Stores Inc. that occupied much of 2010.
Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard said almost 91% of Statoil Retail's stock, or 272.8 million shares, have now been tendered to its original offer. That is above the 90% threshold at which Couche-Tard has said it would initiate a compulsory acquisition of the rest of the shares in the company, which operates about 2,300 outlets in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
Statoil shareholders have until almost noon Wednesday to voluntarily tender their shares, for payment next Tuesday.
Couche-Tard remained firm on its original bid price despite clamor from some investors and analysts in Norway that it would need to increase the offer.
The $2.7 billion bid was announced on April 18. The all-cash offer for all the issued and outstanding shares of Statoil is for 51.20 Norwegian Krone ($8.93 U.S.) per share in cash (53.00 Krone [$9.22 U.S.] before dividend of 1.80 Krone paid to shareholders on May 9).
(Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of the deal.)
Keith Howlett of Desjardins Capital Markets said the favorable result is positive for Couche-Tard and its plans to expand into Europe. "The favorable outcome of this process gives further credence to Couche-Tard's reputation as a shrewd and disciplined acquirer," he wrote in a research note cited by the news agency.
Until recently, it had trouble convincing many minority shareholders to accept the bid, even though owner Statoil ASA had agreed to tender its 54% interest from the outset.
The offer was more than 52% higher than Statoil Fuel's stock price when the deal was announced.
Three independent evaluations have confirmed that Couche-Tard's offer was within the range that reflects the value of the company.
Couche-Tard will now initiate a compulsory acquisition or "squeeze-out" of any shares not tendered by July 24.
Norwegian securities law requires a notice period for the compulsory acquisition of two months.
"We surmise that additional Statoil Fuel & Retail shareholders who had been seeking an increased offer price may also tender their shares," Howlett said.
He expects the acquisition will add 85 cents U.S. per share to Couche-Tard's annual earnings.
Couche-Tard plans to run Statoil Fuel & Retail as a standalone business unit and retain existing management. It has the right to use the Statoil name for eight years.
As of Jan. 29, 2012, Couche-Tard had a network of 5,817 c-stores, 4,225 of which include motor fuel dispensing. It supplies motor fuel to 338 sites operated by independent operators. Couche-Tard's network consists of 13 business units, including nine in the United States covering 42 states and the District of Columbia (primarily under the Circle K flag), and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces (primarily under the Mac's and Couche-Tard flags).