Purchase of ampm, EasyTrip stores to triple chain’s reach in the Ohio market.
7-Eleven is planning to buy EZ Energy USA Inc’s 91 stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Crain’s Cleveland Business reported.
The deal would boost 7-Eleven’s footprint in the Ohio market, where it currently operates only 23 sites.
EZ Energy is part of Israel-based EZ Energy Ltd. EZ’s Franchise USA LLC affiliate already has entered into a purchase and sale agreement with privately held 7-Eleven, and the Federal Trade Commission issued an early antitrust clearance for the transaction on Aug. 27.
EZ Energy has already announced it plans to sell all its assets to a “foreign gas station operator” for $64 million. The deal would repay its lenders and bondholders and would net a $10 million profit. Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc.’s parent company is Seven-Eleven Japan.
EZ Energy defaulted on the third of five premium payments to its bondholders, but arranged to restructure its bond amortization schedule when the buyer surfaced, according to reports it issued publicly. The company said the deal could close by as early as Sept. 15 or as late as Oct. 15.
EZ Energy saw its biggest growth in 2009 when it purchased 65 BP “ampm” stores in Ohio and the Pittsburgh area. EZ operates some stores under the ampm banner and others under its own “EasyTrip” label. Today, it operates 55 store locations in Ohio and 36 in Pennsylvania.
Gregg Budoi, EZ Energy USA president and CEO, said debt aside, the chain remains profitable. He told Crain’s Cleveland Business that the soon-to-be-resolved debt was less important in leading to a sale of the stores than EZ Energy’s strategic review of options for the business, which ranged from bringing in a partner to selling to a private equity firm.
“We did not take this out for a wide sale process. We selected a buyer we believe will do quite well,” Budoi said.