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Apollo to Sell Smart & Final to Ares

LOS ANGELES — Smart & Final Holdings Corp. here said Ares Management has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in the company from Apollo Global Management for an estimated price of $975 million.

The sale is expected to close by the end of the year.

Ares is a locally based private equity firm whose food-related investments include stakes in 99 Cents Only Stores here and GNC Holdings, Pittsburgh, Pa. Other investments include Jacuzzi Brands Corp., Chino Hills, Calif.; National Bedding Co., Hoffman Estates, Ill.; and Orchard Supply Hardware Stores, San Jose, Calif.

Apollo acquired the majority share in Smart & Final in mid-2007 for about $890 million from Groupe Casino, the Paris-based company that had owned it since 1984. At the time of Apollo's acquisition five years ago, Smart & Final was operating 200 Smart & Final warehouse stores and 55 Cash & Carry stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and northern Mexico, with sales of close to $1 billion.

Other news: Moody's Upgrades Smart & Final Ratings

For the fiscal year that ended last Jan. 12 sales were approximately $2 billion at 234 stores, including 182 warehouse stores and 52 Cash & Carrys, plus 13 stores in Mexico ; in April 2011 the company sold 34 Henry's and nine Sun Harvest stores to Sprouts Farmers Market, Phoenix.

Smart & Final told SN George Golleher, who has been the company's chairman during Apollo's ownership, plans to retire when the deal with Ares closes.

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