Bill Lackey/Staff

Plan to buy Speedway gas stations scrapped: What’s really going on

Seven & i Holdings Co. has scrapped plans to acquire Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Speedway gas stations for $22 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus was one of the factors that impacted negotiations in the exclusive phase, Bloomberg was told by unnamed sources close to the situation. Seven & i decided not to proceed with the transaction on concerns over valuations, the person said.

Japan-based Seven & i Holdings Co. is the owner of 69,000 stores worldwide, including the 7-Eleven chain.

MORE: No plans to move Speedway HQ after company goes public

Speedway officials have told this newspaper the company is on track to be completely separated from Marathon by the end of the year.

Marathon Petroleum announced in October that it would be spinning off Speedway, which is based in Enon. The decision came after “activist shareholders” at Marathon, including Elliott Management Corp., urged a spinoff of the gas station chain.

Company leaders at Marathon had weighed spinning off Speedway in the past. However, that proposal was rejected by company leaders in 2017.

Marathon Petroleum operates what it says is the nation’s largest refining system with more than three million barrels per day of crude oil capacity across 16 refineries. The decision to make Speedway its own separate publicly traded company could possibly make it one of the largest U.S.-operated chain of retail convenience stores, the News-Sun reported.

MORE: No plans to move Speedway HQ after company goes public

“In retail, our team is making good progress on the Speedway separation while continuing to identify opportunities to grow merchandise margin through store conversions and remodels,” said Marathon’s Chairman and CEO Gary R. Heminger during an earnings call last month.

Marathon’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Donald Templin said during the same call that they expect to invest approximately $550 million “in the retail segment primarily to build new Speedway stores and to rebuild and remodel existing Speedway locations,” for this fiscal year.

The news comes as Speedway undergoes a $48 million expansion at its Enon headquarters that includes a new 140,000 square-foot building, which will connect to two existing buildings at the site. Construction on that project began at the end of 2018 and is expected to be completed by this summer.

The viral outbreak is imperiling dealmaking activity as the coronavirus continues to spread after sickening over 95,000 and killing more than 3,200, according to Bloomberg.

At about $22 billion, a potential deal for Speedway would have been the biggest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company since Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s $62 billion purchase last year of Shire Plc., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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