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NEW YORK - Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. has reportedly been shopping itself to private equity investors because the family that owns the supermarket chain fears losing its fortune in a bankruptcy filing, according to investment bankers who spoke to TheDeal.com.
In late January, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie revealed a $79.5 million quarterly loss. Although its debts aren't due until 2007 or 2008, some observers have speculated the possibility of bankruptcy.
The Davis family, which owns around 40 percent of the company's stock, instead is seeking an investment from a financial buyer, according to the report. "It doesn't make sense for the family to give up their fortunes," by filing for bankruptcy, Mark Hugh Sam, an analyst at Morningstar, told The Deal.com.
The family may be reluctant to give up control and may be looking for someone to take a minority stake, one investment banker said.
Kathy Lussier, a Winn-Dixie spokeswoman, declined to comment to TheDeal.com.
In other Winn-Dixie news, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the company's Thriftway chain, once one of the most prominent destinations for grocery shoppers in greater Cincinnati, is likely to leave the market, according to some industry experts. Winn-Dixie has said it plans to pull out of underperforming markets, although hasn't yet determined those markets.