The Federal Trade Commission today sued 7-Eleven, Inc. alleging the convenience store chain violated a 2018 FTC consent order by acquiring a fuel outlet in St. Petersburg, Fla. without providing the Commission prior notice.
According to the Commission’s federal complaint, which also names 7-Eleven’s parent company, Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd., 7-Eleven’s acquisition of the St. Petersburg outlet plainly violated the consent order, was anticompetitive, and likely allowed 7-Eleven to charge higher fuel prices at locations near the St. Petersburg location. The FTC is seeking a civil penalty for a four-year violation period, starting when 7-Eleven acquired the outlet without giving the required notice. 7-Eleven faces a maximum penalty of over $77 million.
The consent order stems from 7-Eleven’s $3.3 billion acquisition of more than 1,000 retail fuel outlets with attached convenience stores from Sunoco in 2018. 7-Eleven and its parent company agreed to a consent order to settle FTC charges that its proposed acquisition would harm competition for retail gas and diesel fuel in certain local markets, resulting in consumers paying higher fuel prices. The consent order, among other conditions, prohibited 7-Eleven from acquiring Sunoco fuel outlets in many of these local markets, including in the local market surrounding the St. Petersburg location in the Tampa, Fla. metropolitan area, and required 7-Eleven to provide the FTC with notice before acquiring any interest in specific third-party retail fuel outlets in certain local markets for a period of 10 years.
According to the complaint, 7-Eleven’s acquisition of the St. Petersburg outlet was an undisputed violation of the 2018 consent order since this location was specifically listed as an outlet that could not be acquired without first providing prior notice to the FTC. 7-Eleven submitted false compliance reports to the FTC related to this acquisition. The FTC is seeking civil penalties for 7-Eleven’s violation of the Commission’s consent order to protect the public interest and deter 7-Eleven, a serial acquirer of retail fuel outlets across the United States, and others from flouting future consent orders, the FTC’s complaint states.
The Commission vote authorizing staff to file a complaint and seek civil penalties was 3-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law, or a Commission order, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.