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Ordered to divest seven of the supermarkets it acquired as part of its January 2010 purchase of the bankrupt Penn Traffic chain, Tops Markets has gotten unanimous approval from the Federal Trade Commission to sell three of those locations.
Earlier this year, Tops sought permission to sell stores in Ithaca and Cortland, N.Y., and Sayre, Pa., to Hometown Markets, a company owned by a former Penn Traffic CEO, the Buffalo News reported. These three locations reportedly will adopt the “P&C Fresh” banner. A closing date is being finalized for the sale.
Further, the FTC named an independent trustee, Washington, D.C.-based investment banker Food Partners LLC, to oversee efforts to sell four other locations, in Bath and Lockport, N.Y. “They will be handling the search,” Katie McKenna, a Tops spokeswoman, told the News. “They are looking to locate acceptable buyers.”
The Food Partners will have 90 days to find buyers for the four stores, then another 90 days to complete the sale. After that time, unsold stores “will automatically revert back to Tops,” the FTC said. The FTC is also requiring Tops to “maintain the viability and competitiveness of the stores” pending their sale.
The FTC’s settlement resolved claims by federal officials that Tops’ ownership of the Penn Traffic stores would limit competition and drive up grocery prices, the News reported.