FTC requires Bi-Lo to sell 12 supermarkets
Bi-Lo Holdings is to sell supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The company's proposed $265 million acquisition of 154 stores from Delhaize America includes 73 Sweetbay supermarkets (and leases to 10 closed stores), as well as 71 Harveys supermarkets and 10 Reid's supermarkets.
The FTC settlement preserves competition in 11 local markets in the three states. According to the FTC's complaint, Bi-Lo's proposed acquisition of the Delhaize stores would likely harm consumers through higher prices, diminished quality and reduced service levels in: Arcadia, Dunnellon, Lake Placid, Madison, and Wauchula, Florida; Bainbridge, Statesboro, Sylvania, Vidalia, and Waynesboro, Georgia; and Batesburg, South Carolina.
The proposed order settling the Commission's charges, requires the merged Bi-Lo/Delhaize to sell 12 stores to Rowes IGA Supermarkets, HAC, Inc., W. Lee Flowers & Co., Inc. and Food Giant. Details about each purchase are set forth in the analysis to aid public comment for this matter on the FTC website.
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Bi-Lo will acquire the Delhaize stores on a rolling basis, through eight separate deal closings over a 10-week period. Each supermarket divestiture must be completed within 10 days of the respective Bi-Lo/Delhaize closing date.
Bi-Lo is the parent company of the BI-LO and Winn Dixie grocery store chains, with 685 supermarkets located in the southeastern United States. Its majority owner is Lone Star Funds, a firm that specializes in distressed assets. Delhaize America is a subsidiary of Belgian grocery store operator Delhaize. It owns and operates 1,553 supermarkets in the Northeast and Southeast under six banners: Food Lion, Sweetbay, Harveys, Reid's, Hannaford, and Bottom Dollar Food. ■