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Delhaize Group SA is reportedly a serious bidder for Massachusetts-based Demoulas Market Basket Supermarkets, which has been thrown into turmoil in recent weeks after long-brewing animosity at the family-owned company boiled over, resulting in the ouster of the banner's longtime CEO.
The Belgium-based parent of Hannaford Bros., which competes with Market Basket in Maine, has offered to acquire part or all of Market Basket, the Boston Globe has reported. This stands to complicate efforts by ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, who holds a minority stake in the company, to buy out rival family members who hold the majority stake and booted him out of the company.
Delhaize is not commenting on the matter, according to the Globe.
Latest Development in Controversial Saga
Arthur T. Demoulas, who holds a 49.5 percent stake in the company, has offered to purchase the 50.5 percent held by cousin Arthur S. Demoulas and his siblings. Pending consideration of the offer, Arthur T. has offered to return to the company immediately to put operations back in order. Since his ouster, angry consumers loyal to Arthur T. have boycotted the chain, and stores sitting empty of shoppers and goods are losing millions in sales. Further, Market Basket employees have actively protested their boss' dismissal, while fans of the chain have launched their own social media efforts to raise awareness of the controversy.
Meanwhile, the company's board of directors has reaffirmed its support for new co-chief executives Felicia Thornton and James Gooch, the Boston Globe has reported. The duo have faced stiff resistance from employees, who have refused to work for them and frustrated efforts to find replacements, the Globe further reported.
The family feud, which reportedly dates back to the 1970s, includes a court decision in the early 1990s declaring that Arthur T.’s father, Market Basket founder Telemachus “Mike” Demoulas, defrauded Arthur S. and other relatives out of their shares in the company. Arthur T. retained control of the company until the recent upheaval, when a family ally of Arthur S. who had supported Arthur T. switched sides and voted in favor of Arthur T.'s dismissal.
Since the embroglio has eruputed, employees have engaged in mass protests, which have been backed by a majority of shoppers in many markets which have honored an employee-initiated boycott of the company’s 71 New England stores.