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Private equity investor Sam Zell has confirmed a bid to purchase 140 stores from Cerberus Capital Management in advance of the $9 billion merger between Cerberus-owned Albertsons LLC and Safeway Inc.
Zell joins Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management and Comvest Partners, based in West Palm Beach, Fla., as one of three contenders vying for the stores that Cerberus looks to divest in an effort to secure regulatory approval for the pending merger, which was announced in March of this year. Zell is reportedly working with Stuart Sloan on the bid, who served as chairman for the Quality Food Centers grocery chain.
Following the closing of the Albertsons-Safeway merger, the joint company will comprise 2,400 stores, 27 distribution facilities and 20 manufacturing plants and employ approximately 250,000 associates.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Zell noted that the merger creates an "opportunistic environment," as the forced divestures are likely a secondary concern for the two companies, as their focus remains on "getting the big deal done."
Safeway and Albertsons have not commented on the divestures.
Established in 2006, Albertsons operates stores under its flagship banner, as well as Acme Markets, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s, Star Market and Super Saver, and more recently, stores under the United Family of stores – Amigos, Market Street and United Supermarkets.
The nation's second-largest retailer, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway operates under its flagship, as well as Vons, Pavilion’s, Randall’s, Tom Thumb and Carrs.