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Shell, Couche-Tard say Chicago’s their kind of town

The Montreal Gazette

Agreement expected this year on joint venture

By MIKE KING, The Gazette

November 12, 2009

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. plans to fly into the Windy City in 2010.

The Laval convenience-store chain announced yesterday that one of its wholly owned subsidiaries is expected to reach an agreement by the end of this year to create a joint venture with Shell Oil Products U.S. to operate about 100 stores in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Of the convenience stores in the proposed venture, about 90 are run by third parties in an agreement with Shell, including 32 operated under the Circle K banner by Couche-Tard’s Midwest Division. The remaining 10 or so operate as Shell outlets under a retail lease agreement.

“These stores are located in the third-largest city in the U.S. Strategically, this acquisition would be a complement to our expansion and growth plans for the Midwest Division,” Darrell Davis, vice-president of operations at the Circle K Midwest American Division, said in a statement from his office in Indiana.

“In addition to being an excellent fit within our current operating framework, it would … allow us to more easily target our growth in the greater Chicago metropolitan area.”

In addition to operating the stores, Couche-Tard’s Circle K subsidiary will supply them with Shell-branded motor fuel, Shell Oil spokesperson Karyn Leonardi-Cattolica said in an email from company headquarters in Houston, Tex.

Couche-Tard shares closed at $20 on the Toronto Stock Exchange yesterday, down four cents.

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