FTC Sues 7-Eleven Over Violation of Consent Order in St. Petersburg Outlet Acquisition

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against convenience store giant 7-Eleven, Inc. and its parent company, Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd. The FTC alleges that 7-Eleven violated a 2018 consent order by acquiring a fuel outlet in St. Petersburg, Florida without first notifying the Commission.

The federal complaint asserts that the acquisition of the St. Petersburg outlet was not only a clear violation of the consent order but also anticompetitive, enabling 7-Eleven to potentially charge higher fuel prices at locations near the St. Petersburg outlet. Consequently, the FTC is seeking a civil penalty for a four-year violation period, which started when 7-Eleven acquired the outlet without the required notice. The maximum penalty could exceed $77 million.

The original consent order resulted from 7-Eleven’s $3.3 billion purchase of over 1,000 retail fuel outlets with attached convenience stores from Sunoco in 2018. To settle FTC charges that this acquisition would harm competition for retail gas and diesel fuel in certain local markets, leading to increased fuel prices for consumers, 7-Eleven and its parent company agreed to the consent order. Among other things, the order barred 7-Eleven from acquiring Sunoco fuel outlets in many local markets, including the local market surrounding the St. Petersburg location in the Tampa metropolitan area, for a period of 10 years without providing prior notice to the FTC.

According to the FTC’s complaint, 7-Eleven’s acquisition of the St. Petersburg outlet was an undisputed breach of the 2018 consent order. This location was explicitly listed as an outlet that could not be acquired without first notifying the FTC. The complaint further alleges that 7-Eleven submitted false compliance reports to the FTC related to this acquisition.

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The FTC is seeking civil penalties for 7-Eleven’s violation of the Commission’s consent order to protect public interest and deter 7-Eleven, a frequent acquirer of retail fuel outlets across the United States, and others from disregarding future consent orders.

The Commission’s vote to authorize staff to file the complaint and seek civil penalties was unanimous at 3-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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