According to a report from The Chicago Tribune, Cerberus Capital Management is exploring a deal for all or part of Safeway, the second-largest supermarket operator in the U.S. In addition, Supermarket News said this morning that according to a Reuters report, Safeway has engaged Goldman Sachs to explore a potential private equity takeover.
Safeway, which exited the Philadelphia market by selling or closing its Genuardi's stores (with the exception of one remaining store in Audubon, PA) and recently announced that it plans to exit the Chicago market by selling its Dominick's chain, just received clearance from Canada to sell its 212 stores there to Empire Co. for $5.8 billion in cash.
Earlier this year, Cerberus led an investor group that included Kimco in a $3.3 billion acquisition of a group of supermarket chains from Supervalu that included Acme, Albertsons and Jewel-Osco.
Other grocery deals completed this year included Kroger's $2.5 billion acquisition of Harris Teeter, Bi-Lo Holdings $265 million purchase of three Delhaize chains, and Spartan's acquisition of Nash Finch.
Safeway has experience with private equity, as KKR took the supermarket chain private in 1986. KKR sold its stake 13 years later and reportedly made a $7 billion profit.
According to Safeway's website, there are currently over 1,600 Safeway stores in the United States and Canada. Banners include Safeway, Vons, Dominick's, Randalls, Tom Thumb and Carrs.