Canadian convenience giant Alimentation Couche-Tard is inching closer to its takeover target Caltex Australia after hammering out a confidentiality agreement with the fuel retailer’s management.
Caltex released a statement to the ASX on Thursday morning saying it had signed a confidentiality agreement with Couche-Tard to provide selected non-public information to the Canadians over coming days.
The briefings will take place in Sydney after Couche-Tarde’s senior management team, headed by chief executive Brian Hannasch and chief financial officer Claude Tessier, signed an agreement with Caltex’s managing director and chief executive Julian Segal.
“Caltex today announces that it has entered into a confidentiality agreement with Couche-Tarde to facilitate the provision of selected non-public information. This information will be provided to Couche-Tarde in the coming days,” petrol retailer and refiner said.
Caltex rebuffed Quebec-based Couche-Tard’s $8.6 billion offer in December, saying it “undervalued” the company and instead proposed giving access to non-public information it believes will justify a higher offer.
The company said there was no certainty the discussions with its suitor would result in a better indicative cash offer than Couche-Tarde’s original 34.50-a-share bid and there was no guarantee the Canadians would make a binding proposal after viewing the non-public information.
Executives from both companies are understood to have agreed to a “standstill” commitment on share purchases during the period the information is provided.
Couche-Tarde is not the only interested suitor for Caltex. The company confirmed it was in discussion with a mix of other interested parties, believed to include UK-based EG Group and former shareholder US major Chevron.
Chevron leapt back into the Australian market in December last year with the $425 million acquisition of Puma Energy’s network of Australian service stations.
Caltex said in a fourth quarter trading update on Thursday its refiner margins were lower for the three months to December, impacted by North Sea crude oil markets, the gasoline stockpile in the US and weaker demand for Asia diesel from Europe.
It confirmed its unaudited EBIT profit guidance provided was unchanged in the range of $580 million to $620 million.
Shares in Caltex are trading at around $35.58, providing a substantial buffer on Couche-Tarde’s bid price.
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