* Launches tender offer worth $36 per share in cash
* To nominate slate for election to Casey’s board (Updates with Casey’s response, share prices. In U.S. dollars, unless noted)
TORONTO, June 2 (Reuters) - Alimentation Couche-Tard (ATDb.TO) said on Wednesday it has launched a cash tender offer worth $1.85 billion for shares of Casey’s General Stores (CASY.O) in a bid to expand its retail presence in the United States.
Couche-Tard, Canada’s largest convenience store operator, in April bid $36 per share for Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s. The offer was rejected by the U.S. retailer’s board as opportunistic.
Couche-Tard, which already has 3,600 stores in the United States, said at the time it would take its offer directly to Casey’s shareholders if the board failed to reconsider its rejection.
The tender offer is scheduled to expire on July 9, unless extended.
“It remains our strong preference to enter into a negotiated transaction with Casey’s and it is unfortunate that the Casey’s board has rejected our $36.00 per share all-cash offer without any discussion or negotiation,” Couche-Tard’s Chief Executive Alain Bouchard said in a statement.
Casey’s, which has about 1,500 convenience stores in the U.S. Midwest, responded with a statement advising its shareholders to take no action regarding the offer until its board could review it and make a recommendation.
Couche-Tard’s offer price represented a 14 percent premium over Casey’s closing price of $31.59 on Nasdaq on April 8, a day before the takeover bid was announced.
Shares of Casey’s rose 2.6 percent to $37.30 on Wednesday and have for the most part traded above the offer price since the bid was announced, suggesting investors expect a higher offer to emerge eventually.
Couche-Tard, whose shares rose nearly 3 percent in Toronto, said it plans to nominate a slate of nine directors for election to Casey’s board at its 2010 shareholder meeting. ($1=$1.04 Canadian) (Reporting by Euan Rocha, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Peter Galloway)