Marathon Petroleum in Talks to Sell Speedway Gas Station Unit

Fuel producer Marathon Petroleum is in talks to sell its Speedway gas-station unit for as much as $18 billion.

Fuel producer Marathon Petroleum  (MPC) - Get Report is in discussions to sell its Speedway gas-station unit for as much as $18 billion.

Possible buyers include Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

Marathon Petroleum last fall revealed plans to separate its Speedway unit as part of an effort to appease activist investors including Elliott Management and D.E. Shaw, who were vying for the company to do something about its growing debt, mainly incurred from its $23 billion purchase of fellow refiner Andeavor in 2018.

It then held talks to sell the division to Seven & I Holdings, the Japanese parent of 7-Eleven convenience stores, for more than $20 billion, but the deal fell through in March as the coronavirus pandemic prompted both companies to shelve the plans.

Marathon’s $9.2 billion first-quarter loss was its largest quarterly loss on record.

Even with the talks, there is still a possibility that Marathon will resume its efforts to spin off the unit rather than sell it, the Journal said, citing sources.

Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon owns and operates roughly 4,000 convenience stores in the U.S., largely under the Speedway brand. It also has long-term fuel-supply contracts with other gas stations.

Shares of Marathon Petroleum were up 4.55% at $40.23 in trading on Friday. 

The stock has fallen roughly 30% since last October, initially amid broader declines among oil and gas refiners and more recently at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders that sapped demand for fuel