Seven & i Holdings has sealed the biggest corporate acquisition since the pandemic began.

Japanese retail group Seven & i Holdings acquired Speedway, the convenience store unit of U.S. oil refiner Marathon Petroleum, for $21 billion in cash. The deal, according to Nikkei, is the biggest corporate acquisition globally since the coronavirus outbreak spread earlier this year.

Seven & i operates convenience store chain 7-Eleven as well as supermarkets and department stores in Japan and elsewhere. Speedway is the third-largest convenience store chain with about 4,000 outlets, while Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard, which operates Circle K stores, is the second largest with around 8,000 outlets. The acquisition of Speedway, which operates convenience stores and gas stations side by side, will widen the Japanese retail group’s lead over Couche-Tard in the world’s biggest economy.

Seven & i faces a harsh business environment due to the economic fallout from the pandemic. In Japan, revenue declined at the retail group’s department store business as outlets were closed. Profitability at the group’s U.S. convenience stores is also worsening. Seven & i now expects net profit to tumble 45% to 120 billion yen ($1.13 billion) for its financial year ending in February 2021.

“This transaction marks a milestone on the strategic priorities we outlined earlier this year,” said Michael Hennigan, Marathon’s president and CEO. “It crystallizes the value of the Speedway business, creates certainty around value realization and delivers on our commitment to unlock the value of our assets. At the same time, the establishment of a long-term strategic relationship with 7-Eleven creates opportunities to improve our commercial performance.”


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