As oil giant Suncor announced earlier this week that it will sell its vast network of Petro-Canada service stations, all eyes are on Alimentation Couche-Tard.
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In a statement released Monday, Suncor Energy announced that it has entered into an agreement with Elliott Investment Management. Dissatisfied with Suncor’s performance, the militant American company is particularly considering selling the Alberta company its roughly 1,800 service stations, including about 1,600 in Canada.
“As with any major transaction, we expect[Alimentation Couche-Tard] Be a part of any process that affects Suncor’s retail assets,” cites RBC Capital Markets analyst Irene Nattel. Financial post.
However, all experts agree that Couche-Tard, which operates more than 2,000 service stations and convenience stores in Canada, could not acquire the entire Petro-Canada network.
Listen to financial journalist Olivier Bourque at Alexandre Moranville-Ouellet’s microphone on QUB Radio:
If the company gets its hands on Suncor’s stations, it would probably have to sell half of them to a competitor, said Martin Landry, an analyst at Stifel GMP. Couche-Tard’s biggest rival in North America, 7-Eleven, could also be interested in the network, which has sales of more than $10 billion, he said.
In 2016, Couche-Tard bought 279 of the 497 Esso gas stations put up for sale by Imperial Oil for $1.6 billion. Four other buyers shared other stations.
The Competition Bureau will scrutinize any transaction carefully, underlines Pierre Larouche, a professor of competition law at the University of Montreal.
“These are very localized markets, so you have to go almost service station by service station, he noted. If there are Petro-Canada and Shell stations at an intersection, there is no problem, because the competitive situation remains unchanged, but if there are Petro-Canada and Couche-Tard stations, it is different.”
A benefit to the consumer?
The possible transaction worries consumers, who have been suffering from rising gas prices since the start of the year. However, it should be noted that in recent years it has mainly been refining margins and not retail ones.
“It is not impossible [l’acquisition potentielle des stations de Suncor par Couche-Tard] For the benefit of the consumer by giving Couche-Tard more purchasing power,” Mr. Larouche said.
Suncor’s idea is part of a major trend that has seen many oil companies abandon the retail sector to focus on exploration, production and refining.
“It makes good sense for everybody,” says Pierre LaRouche. Couche-Tard is better suited to run this type of enterprise than an oil company.