April 18, 2012 / 5:51 AM / 8 years ago

Canada's Couche-Tard to buy Statoil Fuel for $2.8 billion

People walk past a Couche-Tard store in Quebec City June 9, 2010. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

OSLO (Reuters) - Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc (ATDb.TO) has agreed to buy Norway’s Statoil Fuel and Retail SFRET.OL for $2.8 billion, a move that will give it the largest chain of petrol stations in Scandinavia and a major foothold in eastern Europe.

Couche-Tard, which operates convenience-store chains in Canada and the United States, offered 53 crowns per share, a 53 percent premium to Tuesday’s 34.75 crown closing price.

Statoil STL.OL, Norway’s top oil producer and the retailer’s biggest shareholder with 54 percent, agreed to the sale which will allow it to focus on its core exploration and production business.

“Couche-Tard plans to operate Statoil Fuel & Retail as a whole, preserve its strong brand and continue the existing strategy undertaken by the local executives along with sharing of best practices,” the company said.

Statoil Fuel operates the largest fuel retail network in Scandinavia and has also expanded into Russia, Poland and the Baltics. It targets organic growth of 50-60 new stations a year, of which 40-50 will be in Central and Eastern Europe to add to its current network of 2,300.

The deal is conditional on regulatory approvals and Couche-Tard acquiring over 90 percent of Statoil Fuel’s shares.

Couche-Tard expects to use existing credit facilities and a new three-year $3.2 billion credit facility to finance the offer, it said.

The new credit is committed by a syndicate of banks led by National Bank Financial, UBS, Rabobank, Scotiabank, HSBC and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, with National Bank of Canada acting as administrative agent.

Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Erica Billingham

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