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Couche-Tard again extends deadline in Statoil bid

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Convenience-store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ATD.B-T) is showing signs of frustration with the time it's taking minority shareholders to respond to its takeover proposal for a Norwegian company.

The Laval, Que.-based company has for a second time extended its offer, to June 8 from May 29, for convenience-store chain Statoil Fuel & Retail, a subsidiary of oil company Statoil ASA.

Also, if we could say: "The friendly offer has the approval of Statoil Fuel & Retail's board."

But Couche-Tard president and chief executive officer Alain Bouchard says walking away from the bid is an option.

"This extension is crucial for the completion of the transaction and we outline the fact that we are getting near the end of this process," he says in news release Tuesday.

"At this stage, we retain all our options, including letting our offer expire, and our shareholders can trust that we will act in their best interests at all times."

He adds that the acquisition of Statoil "remains our preferred transaction" but that Couche-Tard remains "active on other options and time is becoming of essence."

Couche-Tard requires acceptance of the deal by 90 percent of Statoil Fuel & Retail's shareholders, but only about 67 percent have so far been tendered.

The $2.68-billion US offer for Statoil, which operates stores in several Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, represents a significant step outside Couche-Tard's core North American network.

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