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Forum and wire reports, Published January 10 2013

Cerberus group to buy Supervalu chains

CHICAGO – A Cerberus Capital Management LP-led investor group agreed to acquire Supervalu Inc.’s Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Star Market grocery stores in a transaction valued at about $3.3 billion.

The Fargo-Moorhead area grocery chain Hornbacher’s is a part of the Supervalu portfolio and is not being sold by Supervalu.

Hornbacher’s President Matt Leiseth in Fargo confirmed the deal will not affect any of the six stores in the metro.

Cerberus also will lead a group to conduct a tender offer to buy as much as 30 percent of Supervalu’s common stock for $4 a share in cash, the companies said Thursday in a statement. After the transactions are completed, Sam Duncan, the former chairman and chief executive officer of OfficeMax Inc., will become CEO of Supervalu, replacing Wayne Sales, the companies said.

Supervalu, the third-largest U.S. grocery chain, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., has eliminated jobs and accelerated price cuts at stores as it struggles to keep pace with discounters including Wal-Mart Stores and Target.

Supervalu sales have fallen for three straight years and are forecast to drop 4.5 percent to $34.5 billion in its fiscal 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

No Hornbacher’s staff will be cut and customers will not see any impact from the deal, Leiseth said.

“We’re not really involved in that. We just focus on taking care of our customers,” he said. “For us, it’s business as usual.”

The company reported Thursday that revenue fell 5 percent to $7.91 billion in the three months ended Dec. 1, according to a separate Supervalu statement. Sales dropped at its traditional retail food banners and at Save-A-Lot locations, it said.

The sale leaves Supervalu with the Save-A-Lot chain, the company’s largest with about 1,300 stores across the country, as well as the Cub, Farm Fresh, Shoppers, Shop ’n Save and Hornbacher’s regional chains. It also has a wholesale business that distributes groceries to food retailers.

Cerberus already owns some Albertsons stores. In 2006, the New York-based private-equity firm had led an investment group that bought more than 600 Albertsons – including in Dallas, Florida and Northern California – as part of Supervalu’s acquisition of the chain, a deal valued at $17.4 billion at the time.

The group buying the five grocery chains, and their related Osco and Sav-on pharmacies, also includes Kimco Realty Corp., Klaff Realty LP, Lubert-Adler Partners and Schottenstein Real Estate Group.


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