A convenience store-gas station industry trade publication reported that ConocoPhillips likely is negotiating a deal to unload more than 2,000 of its 2,500 retail stores, most of them Circle K locations, to a single buyer within the next 30 days.
The publication attributed the information to “several industry players.” The oil giant’s retail marketing operations are located in Tempe, where an estimated 1,000 employees’ jobs have been in limbo since the two companies merged a year ago and ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva announced plans to sell off stores. Several smaller sales have occurred.
ConocoPhillips corporate spokeswoman Laura a Hopkins said Monday that the CSP Daily News story, published Friday, is based on speculation and could not be confirmed. “We have stated that we will sell a substantial portion of our company-owned retail sites and wholesale marketing assets in certain geographic markets,” Hopkins said. “To that end, we are pursuing the sale of assets in some areas, and we will provide further detail when it is appropriate to do so. We will not comment on market rumors.”
CSP Daily News reported that industry insiders estimate the 2,000-plus shops will sell for between $650 million and $750 million, and it named such diverse potential buyers as U.S., Israeli and Canadian energy firms, some investment companies, and possibly even Wal-Mart.
“Industry experts indicate that Wal-Mart’s weakness is the dollar (store) concept, and Wal-Mart might be making a play on a convenience store chain as a way to build a dollar store concept in a convenience store,” the CSP Daily News story reported.
If the speculated sale happens, it would leave only about 400 to 500 retail stores still owned by the oil company — about 10 percent of the 4,000 sites the marketing division managed a year ago. ConocoPhillips Retail Marketing Division spokeswoman Julie Igo would not say what would happen to the Tempe staff if that occurred.
“I can’t comment on that,” Igo said. “We are not speculating on different scenarios.”