NEWS WATCH: COURT TO HEAR MOTION TO UNSEAL CHAINS' STRIKE PACT...GRISTEDES BEGINS STOCK PURCHASES IN PRIVATIZATION...PENN TRAFFIC POSTS LOSS OF $266,000 FOR SEPTEMBER

COURT TO HEAR MOTION TO UNSEAL CHAINS' STRIKE PACTrney General to unseal the profit-sharing agreement from last winter's 141-day strike-lockout in Southern California is scheduled to be heard in U.S. District Court here tomorrow. A protective order prevents the agreement from being made public. "But we believe consumers need to know how this type of agreement works, since they are the ones who ultimately

COURT TO HEAR MOTION TO UNSEAL CHAINS' STRIKE PACT

rney General to unseal the profit-sharing agreement from last winter's 141-day strike-lockout in Southern California is scheduled to be heard in U.S. District Court here tomorrow. A protective order prevents the agreement from being made public. "But we believe consumers need to know how this type of agreement works, since they are the ones who ultimately paid the price," a spokesman for Bill Lockyer, the California Attorney General, told SN last week. Lockyer filed suit last January against Albertsons, Kroger and Safeway -- the three parties to the agreement -- charging the agreement was anti-competitive and was not covered by a collective-bargaining exemption to the law because Kroger-owned Food 4 Less was a party to the agreement, although it was not involved in the labor dispute. The chains have filed a motion asking for summary judgment to dismiss the original lawsuit. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for Nov. 15.

GRISTEDES BEGINS STOCK PURCHASES IN PRIVATIZATION

NEW YORK -- Shareholders of Gristedes Foods last week received offers to cash out their stock as the company reverts to private ownership, John Catsimatidis, Gristedes chief executive officer, told SN. Catsimatidis and certain affiliates currently hold more than 90% of the company's stock, which traded on the American Stock Exchange. Catsimatidis said he would buy the remainder from shareholders at 87 cents per share -- an offer approved by the company's independent directors and a fairness opinion from Brooks Haughton Securities. Catsimatidis said the transaction, which will cost "a few million," should be complete around Nov. 17.

PENN TRAFFIC POSTS LOSS OF $266,000 FOR SEPTEMBER

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Penn Traffic here said last week revenues for the four weeks ended Sept. 25 totaled $97.4 million, while revenues for the 69 weeks since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection were $1.72 billion. The company posted a loss of $266,000 for the four-week period and an operating income of $1.8 million. The loss for the 69-week period was $158.3 million, while operating income was $8 million. Penn Traffic filed for Chapter 11 on May 30, 2003, and filed a plan of reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in September. Yet in light of a potential sales-leaseback transaction and the significant change it would have on the chain's post-bankruptcy capital structure, the company said it had decided to postpone its disclosure-statement hearing until an undetermined date to give it more time to consider the transaction proposal and determine whether to file an amended reorganization plan.

AHOLD AGREES ON PRICE FOR STAKE IN JOINT VENTURE

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold last week said it has reached a final agreement with Canica AS on the purchase price of Canica's 20% interest in the Scandinavian joint venture ICA. Ahold became obligated to buy Canica's interest as a result of Canica's exercise on July 12 of its "put" option under the joint-venture agreement. The total purchase price to be paid by Ahold for the 20% stake totals about $1 billion.

OHIO GROCERS SELECT THREE TO ENTER HALL OF FAME

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Grocers Association here last week inducted three new members into the Hall of Fame Class of 2004: Rick Greyer, president and chief executive officer, Greyer's Market, Lexington, Ohio; Michael S. Needler, chairman, president and CEO of Needler Enterprises/Fresh Encounter, Findlay, Ohio; and Raymond Mangini, zone sales manager, Kellogg's Snacks Division/Keebler, Battle Creek, Mich.