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Sobeys to Buy Safeway Canada for $5.8 Billion

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — Empire Cos., parent of the Sobeys chain here, said Wednesday it would buy Safeway Canada for $5.8 billion (Canadian).

The acquisition of 213 stores would provide Sobeys with a leading position in Western Canada and grow Sobeys overall sales to around $24 billion. Safeway Canada, a division of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, had sales of around $6.7 billion and a profit of $428 million (Canadian) in the 12 months that ended March 23.

Safeway said proceeds from the transaction are expected to be used to pay down around $2 billion of debt, with the majority of the remainder to be used to buy back stock. In addition, some of the proceeds may be used to invest in growth opportunities.

Robert Edwards, Safeway’s new chief executive officer, in a statement Wednesday said the deal allowed Safeway to take advantage of high multiples for Canadian retailers.

“The substantial cash proceeds from this transaction will allow us to create value for Safeway stakeholders and contribute to the growth of the ongoing business,” he said.

Sobeys said it intended to pay for the transaction using a combination of a $1.5 billion Empire stock offering; around $1 billion through the sale and leaseback of the acquired facilities; a term loan of $1.825 billion, and the issuance of $800 million in new Sobeys debt.

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close in the fall. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval in Canada.

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