Couche-Tard shares rally as Statoil deal closes

TORONTO Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:24pm EDT

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc (ATDb.TO) said on Wednesday it has reached the 90 percent level of shareholder acceptance in its takeover bid for Norway's Statoil Fuel and Retail ASA SFRET.OL, which allows it to force holdout shareholders to sell their stock.

Shares of Couche-Tard, which operates convenience store chains in Canada and the United States, were up nearly 5 percent at C$45.00 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday morning, following positive feedback from analysts.

Couche-Tard said it has received 90.92 percent shareholder acceptance in its bid of 51.2 Norwegian crowns ($8.68) per share for the Scandinavian gas station chain operator, which it launched in April to gain a foothold in one of Europe's top performing economies.

"We believe this is a positive development for Couche-Tard as the acquisition of Statoil can now conclude with Couche-Tard acquiring all of the shares," BMO Capital Markets analyst Peter Sklar said in a research note. He noted Couche-Tard's final acceptance period expired at 11:30 a.m. (1530 GMT) on Wednesday.

"In our view, the ability to effect a squeeze-out of the minority is a positive development as Couche-Tard will be able to efficiently access Statoil's balance sheet and cash flow to fund and repay the associated acquisition debt."

Heading into the deadline, Couche-Tard said the deal would go through regardless of whether it reached the 90 percent threshold, but some analysts noted that the company's management ideally did not want to deal with a minority group of shareholders following the acquisition.

($1=5.9 Norwegian crowns)

($1=$1.02 Canadian) ( This story has been refiled to correct the spelling of Couche-Tard in headline and in second and sixth paragraphs )

(Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty in Oslo; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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