FTC on Speedway sale to 7-Eleven: Companies proceed ‘at their own risk’

Members warn: ‘We have reason to believe that this transaction is illegal’

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Two officials with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) threw cold water on the $21 billion sale of Enon-based Speedway to the corporate parent of 7-11, saying the companies proceed with the transaction “at their own risk” and without the backing of a majority of the commission.

“We have reason to believe that this transaction is illegal under Section 7 of the Clayton Act and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, raising significant competitive concerns in hundreds of local retail gasoline and diesel fuel markets across the country,” a statement from FTC Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Commissioner Rohit Chopra said Friday.

“In many local markets, the transaction is either a merger-to-monopoly or reduces the number of competitors from three to two,” the pair added. “With the support of a majority of commissioners, the commission can and routinely does challenge these harmful mergers.”

The FTC statement was released in response to the announcement by 7-Eleven’s parent company that it had closed the agreement with Speedway-owner Marathon Petroleum Friday. The deal sells Speedway to 7-Eleven, Inc., a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Seven & i Holdings Co.

“The close of the Speedway transaction marks a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to strengthen the competitive position of our portfolio,” Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Maryann T. Mannen said in a Marathon statement.

The sale involves some 3,900 Speedway retail gas stations and convenience stores from Marathon.

A message seeking comment was left with a spokesman for Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon.

The FTC statement said the commission has spent “significant resources investigating this transaction but has not yet come to an agreement with the parties and a majority of the commission that would fully resolve the competitive concerns.”

“Seven and Marathon’s decision to close under these circumstances is highly unusual, and we are extremely troubled by it,” the statement said, adding: “The parties have closed their transaction at their own risk.”

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