Jan 22 Canadian grocer Metro Inc said
on Tuesday it would sell nearly half of its stake in
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc for C$479 million ($482
million), cashing in some of its investment in the gas-bar and
convenience store operator.
Metro will sell 48.2 percent of its Couche-Tard stake to BMO
Nesbitt Burns Inc, National Bank Financial and TD Securities Inc
at C$47.90 a share. Couche-Tard closed at C$48.98 on the Toronto
Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
Metro Chief Executive Eric La Fleche said the company made
the decision "given the market value of our holdings in
Couche-Tard relative to Metro's total value." Couche-Tard's
stock has risen more than 60 percent over the last 12 months.
"We are evaluating opportunities for the use of proceeds,
including investments for growth and returns to shareholders,"
La Fleche said in a statement.
Canadian grocers like Metro, Loblaw Cos Ltd and
Empire Co Ltd's Sobeys have come under mounting
pressure over the last two years as Wal-Mart Stores Inc
expands its grocery business in Canada.
Following the sale, Montreal-based Metro - a Couche-Tard
shareholder since 1987 - will still have a 5.7 percent economic
interest and a 17.0 percent voting interest in the company.
Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard has more than 6,000
convenience stores in its network in North America, many of
which sell motor fuel, under banners that include Mac's and
Thanks to its recent acquisition of Norway's Statoil Fuel &
Retail, the company also operates more than 2,000 fuel stations
in Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltics and Russia, most of which
sell convenience goods.
The transaction announced on Tuesday is a bought deal, which
typically involves a small group of institutional investors or
banks acquiring a large equity stake in a company at a slight
discount to market price.
Such deals eliminate risk to the seller and allow buyers to
later market smaller chunks of the equity at a higher price to