*Says willing to discuss deal with interested parties
*Says $38.50 a share offer no basis for discussion
*To proceed with holding annual meeting on Sept 23
(Adds details, banker quote, stock price. In U.S. dollars)
By Solarina Ho and Pav Jordan
TORONTO, Sept 14 Casey's General Stores
(CASY.O) said on Tuesday it might agree to talks with
Alimentation Couche-Tard (ATDb.TO) if the Canadian company
would raise its $38.50-a-share takeover offer for the U.S.
convenience store operator.
"We are, of course, willing to extend to an interested
party the opportunity for discussions regarding a potential
consensual transaction, provided that the starting point for
such discussions is acceptable," Casey's said.
In a letter to Couche-Tard, which operates 5,800
convenience stores in the United States and Canada, Casey's
Chief Executive Robert Myers said the company planned to
proceed with its annual meeting on Sept. 23, but that it would
continue to evaluate the timing of the meeting.
Couche-Tard has asked Casey's to postpone the meeting,
having put forth a list of its own nominees to Casey's board.
The Akeny, Iowa-based chain is already in talks with
7-Eleven, the world's biggest convenience store chain with over
31,400 stores, after the Japanese company offered $2.03
billion, or $40 a share, for Casey's.
A banker familiar with the deal said it would be
interesting to see how the Japanese will proceed, noting that
they are usually quite slow in making decisions.
"This is one of the best properties available and held by a
publicly traded company. So there is some interest," he said.
Casey's, which operates over 1,500 stores in the U.S.
Midwest, and Couche-Tard have been embroiled in an increasingly
hostile takeover bid.
In the latest exchange between the two companies, Casey's
accused Couche-Tard of "increasingly utilizing
misrepresentations and mischaracterizations in its public
statements," calling them "entirely unfounded and absurd."
Casey's reiterated its objections to Couche-Tard's offer
and the accompanying conditions, adding that the Montreal-based
company gave no indication as to whether it would waive or
withdraw the conditions and that it had not provided enough
information about its proposed financing.
Couche-Tard could not be immediately reached for comment.
Casey's letter to Chief Executive Alain Bouchard was in
response to a letter from Couche-Tard on Friday that said
Couche-Tard was willing to consider raising its bid for Casey's
if the process was fair.
Couche-Tard shares closed unchanged at C$23.00 on the
Toronto Stock Exchange. Casey's climbed 26 cents to $44.24 on