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Nov 5, 2020

Couche-Tard expands into Asia with US$360M acquisition

Couche-Tard expands into Asia with $360-million acquisition

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Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has made its long-awaited move into Asia.

The Montreal-based convenience store giant late Wednesday announced an agreement to buy Convenience Retail Asia Limited's convenience store business for approximately US$360 million. And there's an element of familiarity in the transaction: Convenience Retail Asia's network includes 373 stores across Hong Kong and Macau that operate under Circle K branding.

"I have followed Circle K Hong Kong's progress closely for decades and deeply admire its leadership team and retail expertise. I look forward to welcoming their team members and stores into the Couche-Tard family and have no doubt that together we can reach millions more customers in Hong Kong and across Asia," said Couche-Tard Founder and Executive Chairman Alain Bouchard in a release.

Bouchard has long made it clear he wanted his company to stake its ground in Asia, but without rushing into it.

"[We’ll expand] with prudence: we’re careful,” he told BNN Bloomberg in 2017. “We see big opportunities in some Asian countries right now.”

Although the purchase price is relatively small by Couche-Tard's standards, analysts are pointing out the deal gives the company a springboard for growth in Asia.

"While the Hong Kong convenience story industry is mature with little store growth, we expect Couche-Tard to leverage Circle K Hong Kong to gain access to further opportunities in Asia-Pacific. Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia are the three largest Circle K licensees in Asia with a combined footprint of more than 1,300 stores. We believe other parts of Southeast Asia (Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand) also provide an attractive growth opportunity," wrote Desjardins Securities Analyst Chris Li in a note to clients.

Couche-Tard said it expects the acquisition of Circle K Hong Kong will close by the end of this year, subject to necessary approvals.