Morgan Stanley Buys Tops for $310 Million

Morgan Stanley Private Equity said yesterday it has agreed to buy the Tops Markets chain from Ahold for $310 million.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Morgan Stanley Private Equity said yesterday it has agreed to buy the Tops Markets chain, based here, from Ahold for $310 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Amsterdam-based Ahold said last year it was seeking a buyer for Tops, which operates 71 stores in western New York state and northwestern Pennsylvania. It also has five franchised locations. Ahold had folded Tops under the auspices of its more successful Giant of Carlisle, Pa., banner in 2003. Morgan Stanley said it was assisted in the acquisition process by Frank Curci, who had been chief executive officer at Tops from 2000-2003. Curci was expected to serve on the Tops board of directors and to “lead the transition team during the coming months,” Morgan Stanley said. Max Henderson, executive vice president and general manager, Tops, said in a prepared statement that he would leave the company after a transition period to pursue other opportunities. The transaction, which is expected to close by the end of 2007, marks the first foray into supermarket retailing for Morgan Stanley Private Equity.

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