Somerfield keen to buy Texaco's shops

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The Independent Online

Somerfield, the supermarket group being stalked by Baugur, revealed yesterday it is in talks to acquire 140 Texaco petrol stations in an attempt to expand its control of the convenience store sector.

Somerfield, the supermarket group being stalked by Baugur, revealed yesterday it is in talks to acquire 140 Texaco petrol stations in an attempt to expand its control of the convenience store sector.

As part of the deal, thought to be worth up to £100m, Somerfield intends to sell the sites on to a property partner via a sale-and-leaseback transaction that would offset the cost of its initial investment. The Texaco forecourt portfolio is "predominantly" freehold, it said.

A spokesman for Somerfield said the group had been in talks with ChevronTexaco for "some time" and the move was not intended as a precautionary defence against a possible bid from Iceland's Baugur. But analysts said the deal would increase the value of Somerfield, possibly forcing the Icelandic group to raise its preliminary 190p-per-share approach.

Somerfield has signed a memorandum of understanding with Texaco Limited, ChevronTexaco Corporation's UK subsidiary, to acquire its forecourt convenience store operations.

The California-based oil giant said it would continue to sell fuel on a wholesale basis to 1,100 third-party stations operating under the Texaco brand.The deal will boost Somerfield's forecourt convenience store portfolio to more than 170 stores.

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