Energy Transfer Partners L.P., the Dallas pipeline operator that bought Sunoco Inc. two years ago, is acquiring Texas gasoline-station owner Susser Holdings Corp. for about $1.8 billion, creating a stand-alone retail home for Sunoco.
The deal includes Susser Holdings' 630 company-owned convenience stores in Texas and neighboring states that mostly operate under the Stripes brand. Sunoco has a network of 5,152 retail locations, most on the East Coast and Midwest.
The Susser acquisition will give Sunoco an "exceptional base" in the Southwest, ETP said.
Sunoco chief executive Robert W. Owens will act as CEO for the combined business. Sunoco's plans to move its Center City headquarters to Newtown Square in early 2016 are unaffected, a spokesman said.
"We view this as creating a platform for growth, which we expect to accelerate," Owens said during a conference call Monday with analysts. The combination will achieve $70 million in annual savings, about half from a reduction in fuel acquisition and merchandise costs, he said.
ETP is offering Susser shareholders the option to receive either cash or ETP common units. The offer represents a 41 percent premium over Susser's closing price on Friday.
The transaction answers a question raised in 2012 when ETP acquired Sunoco Inc. Most analysts expected ETP to retain Sunoco's pipeline operation, Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., and sell off the retail operation.
ETP saw more opportunities to grow the retail business than to separate it.
After the deal closes in the third quarter, ETP says. it intends to "drop down" or sell the combined retail business to Susser Petroleum Partners L.P., a master limited partnership whose units will continue to trade separately on the New York Stock Exchange.
The combined firm will be "a dedicated vehicle with its own independent access to capital to support its growth strategy."
The companies will continue to operate the brands separately, though Owens said Sunoco derives a "halo" effect from its racing-fuel association with NASCAR and Indy Car, "which we think will play very well within the Susser geography."
Sunoco earns about 65 percent of its profits from fuel sales, while Susser earns more from merchandise and food sales and only 35 percent from fuel.
Susser was founded in the 1930s in Corpus Christi, Texas. About 370 of its Stripes locations offer Mexican food under its Laredo Taco Co. brand.
Company-owned convenience stores in Texas and neighboring states, most of which operate under the Stripes brand.
Motor fuel sales in millions of gallons