Marathon’s announcement of a $23.3 billion acquisition of a rival refining firm Monday will have a significant impact on Speedway, adding as many as 1,100 new stores to the convenience store chain once the deal is finalized, according to company officials.
On Monday, Marathon announced a merger with Texas-based Andeavor, a rival marketing, logistics and refining company with operations stretching along the West Coast. Marathon is headquartered in Findlay, Ohio and was already the nation’s second-largest refiner, with a crude oil refining capacity of approximately 1.9 million barrels per calendar day in its six-refinery system. The combined company will be the largest U.S. refiner by capacity and a top-five refiner globally, according to information from Marathon.
Marathon is the parent company of Enon-based Speedway, which already operates about 2,740 convenience stores in 21 states. Speedway has about 1,350 employees in Clark County and 33,820 workers nationally.
Anthony Kenney, Speedway’s president, declined to discuss many details about Monday’s acquisition. But he said the deal will have a major impact on the Speedway chain, adding about 1,100 convenience store outlets to the company’s portfolio.
“Speedway will now grow to about 4,000 locations, we’re at 2,800 now,” Kenney said during a meeting at the Springfield Rotary Club. “We’ll add another 1,100 approximate locations and our market territory will reach from New Hampshire to California to Alaska to Florida, so the Speedway brand will be across the landscape.”
Staff at Marathon’s corporate office in Findlay said it’s too early to discuss whether the acquisition of more than 1,000 new stores will lead to additional work at the Speedway’s Clark County headquarters.
Speedway also grew as the result of a much smaller acquisition earlier this month. Just two weeks ago, Speedway announced the acquisition of 78 additional stores held by Petr-All Petroleum Consulting Corporation. The new stores are now marketed under the Express Mart brand and are located in the Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo markets in New York.
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The acquisition of Andeavor has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close in the second half of this year, pending approval by regulators. The transaction values Andeavor at $152.27 per share, according to information from Marathon. That’s about a 24 percent premium compared to Andeavor’s shares at the end of last week.
The headquarters will be located in Findlay, Ohio, and the combined business will maintain an office in San Antonio, Texas. Greg Goff, Andeavor’s chairman and CEO, will join Marathon’s board as executive vice chairman.
“This strategic combination provides our shareholders with a premium for their shares and the opportunity to benefit from substantial future value creation at MPC,” Goff said in a news release. “As the largest refiner by capacity in the U.S., with a best-in-class operating capability and a strong capital structure, the combined company will be exceptionally well-positioned to deliver on its synergy and earnings targets.”
The move makes sense for both companies, in part because the two companies have complementary footprints, said Craig Weiland, an executive director at U.S. Capital Advisors and an analyst who follows Marathon. The additional reach for the convenience store chain should provide cost savings and allow for more efficient operations, he said.
“MPC will gain Andeavor’s primarily west of the Mississippi retail station footprint,” Weiland said. “They claim there is a sizable amount of synergy that can be generated by combining the two entities so I think that’s one thing they expect to squeeze a little bit of cost savings.”
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Speedway’s presence across the U.S. will have spread rapidly in just a few years assuming regulators approve the deal later this year. The retail chain operated about 1,500 stores, mostly in the Midwest, just a few years ago. But in 2015, Speedway’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Hess nearly doubled the size of the chain, adding hundreds of locations along the East Coast and South.
The move comes at a time when the convenience store industry is undergoing major changes and seeing increased competition from grocery stores, inexpensive dollar stores, rival convenience store chains and tech companies like Amazon and Apple, Kenney told members of the Rotary Club Monday.
Convenience store chains like Speedway grew for decades focusing on selling gasoline and items like cigarettes to its customers, Kenney said. But the chain is shifting to focus more on fresh foods and grocery products and devoting more resources to boosting technology to remain competitive. That’s a big change on an industry that has relied on gas and cigarette sales for decades, he said.
“When we look at our history as a company our two largest categories in our business are gasoline and cigarettes,” Kenney said. “That’s how we grew up selling those two categories, and they’re both on a decline.”
He attributed the decline in gasoline sales to a variety of factors, including more fuel-efficient vehicles. Electric and hybrid vehicles are getting attention in the news, but he argued for the average consumer Speedway estimates it will be decades before those vehicles are more cost-effective than the internal combustion engine.
“The cost curves don’t intersect for 30 years,” Kenney said.
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