Couche-Tard expanding south and CFO suddenly resigns

Couche-Tard expanding south and CFO suddenly resigns

MONTREAL — Alimentation Couche−Tard is expanding its reach in the southern United States with a deal to buy 18 convenience stores operating under the Texas Star brand.

The deal also includes two Subway stores and a dealer fuel supply network in the southern part of Texas. The purchase price isn’t being disclosed.

The convenience stores will be converted to the Circle K brand and will continue to sell Shell and CITGO−branded fuel. The deal is expected to close by next April.

With this deal, Couche−Tard’s U.S. Southwest division will include 513 corporate and franchised stores.

The Quebec−based company (TSX:ATD.B) also says its chief financial officer has resigned, effective Thursday, to “pursue other interests and spend more time with his family.”

Raymond Pare has been with the Couche−Tard for 13 years, including about seven as CFO. Chief executive Bran Hannasch will handle financial and investor issues until a replacement is found.

Hannasch said Pare was instrumental in the company’s growth through key acquisitions including Statoil Fuel & Retail in northern Europe and The Pantry in the United States.

Analyst Irene Nattel of RBC Capital Markets said Pare’s sudden departure is not “optimal” but shouldn’t be viewed as a signal of “anything untoward” in the company’s financial statements.

“Rather we would interpret it as not unusual within the context of a new CEO, particularly as Couche−Tard embarks on the integration of The Pantry and the imminent closing of the previously announced agreement to acquire Shell’s convenience−store assets in Denmark,” she wrote in a note.

Derek Dley of Canaccord Genuity said that despite Pare’s departure, the company’s fundamentals remain strong with sizable acquisition opportunities demonstrated by the Texas deal.

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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