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Caltex, Couche-Tard deal off for now

Caltex Australia will not be acquired by fuel retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard, at least in the short term, after talks about an $8.8 billion deal were put on ice.

Couche-Tard, which operates fuel stations across Europe and North America, on Monday said the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic was too great to go ahead with any purchase.

However, president Brian Hannasch said it remained highly interested in a deal as part of its Asia Pacific expansion strategy.

He said the talks and diligence undertaken meant Couche-Tard could quickly table an offer later.

Alimentation Couche-Tard made an unsolicited approach late last year. It upped its initial $8.6 billion buyout proposal to $8.8 billion in February.

Caltex officials in March ruled out a bid by Britain’s Euro Garages.

The Australian fuel business is the largest in the wholesale market and a significant player in the retail and fuel refining markets.

Caltex also on Monday published its first-quarter profit.

This was $80 million, down from $94 for first quarter 2019 on a replacement cost of sales operating profit basis.

This basis excludes the influence of oil prices.

The result was marred by reduced demand due to the summer bushfires and coronavirus restrictions.

Caltex shares were trading lower by $1.72, or 7.3 per cent, to $21.84 at 1026 AEST.

Caltex Australia was created from a merger of Caltex and Ampol in 1995.

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