LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville-based Thorntons has nearly 200 gas station convenience stores, but change is coming. Thorntons is being sold to a joint venture of oil and gas giant BP and Boston-based private equity firm ArcLight Capital Partners

Six months ago, industry analysts said Thorntons was shopping its business around for potential buyers.

"I think the owners probably recognized this is the best time to sell a chain of convenience stores," said Tom Kloza, with Oil Price Information Service, an industry publication. "The surprise is that we're seeing BP, which has been out of the business actually of retail gas for some time, get back into the business."

A state database says nearly 150 people are employed at Thorntons headquarters off Old Henry Road, all of whom will be retained, the company said.

Matt Thornton released a statement following news of the sale:

"While we are proud of where we are today, our vision extends well beyond 191 stores in six states and we know this new joint venture will help us to accelerate store growth and serve even more guests every day."

"What the speculation is whether or not, somewhere down the road, we'll see the BP name of the Amoco name flying outside by the gasoline," Kloza said. "Right now, they say no. But that may change.

"The private equity side ArcLight has been spending billions of dollars in energy in the last few years. BP, of course, is a multi-multi-billion-dollar company that has been buying retail assets on other continents."

Thorntons has 191 gas station-convenience stores in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

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