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Dec 17, 2018

Couche-Tard signs US$184.5M asset swap deal with CrossAmerica

Alimentation Couche-Tard

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MONTREAL -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ATDb.TO) and CrossAmerica Partners LP (CAPL.N) have signed a deal to swap convenience and gas station assets in the United States.

Under the agreement, Couche-Tard has agreed to sell 192 U.S. convenience and fuel retail stores to CrossAmerica, with an aggregate value of about US$184.5 million.

Meanwhile, CrossAmerica has agreed to sell to Couche-Tard assets valued at US$184.5 million, including the real estate property for 56 U.S. company-operated convenience and fuel retail stores leased and operated by Couche-Tard and 17 stores owned and operated by CrossAmerica in the U.S. Upper Midwest.

The deal is expected to take place through a series of transactions over a period of up to 24 months, Couche-Tard said.

The closing of each transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

"We believe this transaction will be beneficial to both parties," Couche-Tard chief executive Brian Hannasch said in a statement.

A provision in U.S. tax law applicable to limited partnerships largely shields income derived from wholesale fuel sales and gas station leases -- CrossAmerica's two main revenue sources.

CrossAmerica Partners LP's general partner CrossAmerica GP was until 2017 a wholly owned subsidiary of CST Brands, a fuel and convenience retailer. Couche-Tard acquired CST Brands for US$4.4 billion last year, making CrossAmerica GP a wholly owned subsidiary of Couche-Tard.

The U.S. tax provision had allowed CST Brands to efficiently finance new stores, minimizing the tax stemming from lease payments to its subsidiary CrossAmerica GP.

Analyst Irene Nattel of RBC Dominion Securities Inc. said in an investor note the asset swap bolsters Couche-Tard's core retail business and marks "a win-win for both sets of stakeholders."