As part of the acquisition agreement, ETP is to own Sunoco’s branded retail business, which includes approximately 4,900 retail locations in the U.S.
The two companies today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement whereby ETP will acquire Sunoco in a unit and cash transaction valued at $50.13 per share, or a total consideration of approximately $5.3 billion, based on ETP’s closing price on April 27, 2012. This combination will create one of the largest and most diversified energy partnerships in the country by expanding ETP’s geographic footprint and strengthening its presence in the transportation, terminaling and logistics of crude oil, NGLs and refined products.
In the short term, industry experts tell Convenience Store Decisions that the deal isn’t likely going to affect fuel prices or supply in any way.
“The Sunoco acquisition is the latest high profile transaction in a changing landscape for the U.S. oil industry amid higher global oil prices due partly to the world’s increased consumption of oil,” said Brian L. Milne, energy editor for Telvent DTN. “It’s difficult to know what the long-term effect will be for fuel buyers at Sunoco stations or for its branded dealers, although it’s doubtful the acquisition by Energy Transfer Partners will have any impact on this pricing in the short run.”
The merger consideration, which consists of $25 in cash and 0.5245 of an ETP common unit, or approximately 50% cash and 50% ETP common units, represents a 29% premium to the 20-day average closing price of Sunoco shares as of April 27, 2012.
By acquiring Sunoco, ETP will also own Sunoco’s general partner interest and the incentive distribution rights (IDRs) in Sunoco Logistics Partners, as well as Sunoco’s 32.4% interest in Sunoco Logistics Partners’ limited partner units and Sunoco’s branded retail business, which generates additional stable cash flows from a portfolio of approximately 4,900 retail locations in the U.S.
“This transaction, which will be immediately accretive, represents the next step in Energy Transfer Partners’ transformation into a more diversified enterprise with an integrated and expanded footprint,” said Kelcy Warren, ETP’s CEO and chairman of the board of directors. “As we have said in the past year, our goal is to derive more of our distributable cash flow from the transportation of heavier hydrocarbons like crude oil, NGLs, and refined products. With this transaction, we make a major move in that direction, bringing our cash flow mix related to the combined enterprise’s pipeline businesses to approximately 70% natural gas and 30% heavier hydrocarbons. At the same time, we will enhance the size and scale of the ETP platform by creating new service capabilities and entering new geographic operating areas.”
“This transaction will enable Sunoco’s businesses to realize their full potential by becoming an important part of a diversified leader in the energy industry,” said Brian MacDonald, Sunoco’s president and CEO. “In addition, it delivers an attractive premium to our shareholders, while enabling them to participate in the future growth of the business. The combination with ETP provides substantial future value-creation opportunities for Sunoco shareholders and ETP unit holders alike.”
He added, “ETP recognizes that the steady, ratable cash flows that our logistics and retail businesses generate are backed by great assets, deep expertise, and the potential for future growth. ETP has an interest in growing its Marcellus Shale-related activity, and I am pleased that the combined enterprise will retain a strong Pennsylvania presence.”
Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, Sunoco shareholders can elect to receive, for each Sunoco common share they own, either $50 in cash, 1.0490 ETP common units or a combination of $25 in cash and 0.5245 ETP common units. The aggregate cash paid and common units issued will be capped so that the cash and common units will each represent 50% t of the aggregate consideration. The cash elections and common unit elections will be subject to proration to satisfy this cap. Upon closing, Sunoco shareholders are expected to own approximately 20% of ETP common units. In addition, $965 million of Sunoco’s existing notes will remain outstanding.
In conjunction with the transaction, Energy Transfer Equity, the owner of Energy Transfer Partners’ general partner, has agreed to relinquish its right to approximately $210 million of incentive distributions from ETP that it would otherwise be entitled to receive over 12 consecutive quarters following the closing of the transaction.
Sunoco’s logistics and retail businesses will continue to maintain headquarters in the Philadelphia area consistent with their current operating presence. In addition, under the merger agreement, Sunoco will continue its plans for exiting its refining business as previously announced, as well as continue its plans for the proposed refinery joint venture being discussed by Sunoco and The Carlyle Group.
Combined Corporate Structure
The transaction is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of 2012, subject to approval of Sunoco shareholders and customary regulatory approvals. Following the closing, Sunoco and Sunoco Logistics Partners will operate under the Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. umbrella of companies. By acquiring Sunoco, ETP will own Sunoco’s general partner interest, limited partner interest and the incentive distribution rights in Sunoco Logistics Partners.
Sunoco Logistics Partners will continue to be traded on the NYSE as a separate publicly traded MLP.
Wells Fargo Securities, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to ETP, while Latham & Watkins LLP, Bingham McCutchen LLP and Morris, Nichols Arsht and Tunnell LLP acted as legal counsel. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Sunoco and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz acted as legal counsel.