Canada's largest convenience store chain has a $2.8-billion US friendly deal to buy the retail operations of Norway's state oil company, marking the Montreal-area company's first major move beyond its North American base.

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. of Laval, Que. currently has 5,817 stores in North America and will increase the size of its retail network by about 50 per cent with the addition of Statoil Fuel and Retail.

Statoil ASA has agreed to tender its 54 per cent interest in the 2,300-location Scandanvian gas bar and convenience store chain to Couche-Tard's offer, which is 52.5 per cent above the closing price on Tuesday.

Statoil Fuel & Retail's board of directors has approved the transaction and recommends that shareholders accept the offer.

"Moving into Scandinavia and Europe is an important step in implementing Couche-Tard's growth strategy," said Couche-Tard president and CEO Alain Bouchard.

Couche-Tard's cash offer values Statoil Fuel's equity at 15.9 billion Norwegian krone or 53 NOK per share. On the Oslo stock exchange, Statoil Fuel's publicly traded shares jumped nearly 51 per cent to 52.45 NOK after the announcement.

Couche-Tard's shares closed Tuesday at $34.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange prior to the overnight announcement. The company was expected to provide further details to analysts in a conference call Wednesday morning.