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Yucaipa Lone Bidder for Fresh & Easy

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market here said it has canceled the auction for its stores after Yucaipa Cos. was the lone bidder.

In documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., Fresh & Easy said a hearing to approve Yucaipa’s bid was scheduled for late last week.

Under the proposed deal, an affiliate of Tesco, Fresh & Easy’s British-based parent company, would lend YFE Holdings, a Yucaipa affiliate, approximately $126.5 million to help fund the acquisition, with Tesco receiving warrants to buy 22.5% of the equity in the reorganized company.


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“The debtors did not receive any qualified bids [other than the qualified bid from YFE Holdings]” before the bid deadline, Fresh & Easy said in the filing. “Accordingly, pursuant to the bidding procedures order, the debtors will not conduct an auction.”

As previously reported, Jim Keyes, the former chairman and chief executive officer of 7-Eleven, has been named to oversee Fresh & Easy when the sale is formally completed, sources said. Keyes, who also ran the Blockbuster video chain for two years, also owns the Wild Oats name in partnership with other management, sources told SN.

A Bloomberg report cited a trademark application for an entity called “Wild Oats Marketing LLC” with Yucaipa’s address to open retail grocery stores.

Read more: Yucaipa Takes Over Fresh & Easy

In a separate filing, Fresh & Easy also said it has an agreement to sell 53 parcels of property that are not part of the Yucaipa sale to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group for $41.5 million. The sites include 29 in California, 16 in Arizona and eight in Nevada.

Twenty of the sites being sold have buildings on them, and the remaining 33 are land-only parcels.

That sale would appear to free Tesco from most of its holdings in the U.S. and allow it to make a “clean break” from the venture, as the company said was its intention when it first unveiled its plans to exit the U.S. Fresh & Easy filed bankruptcy in September to facilitate the asset sales after agreeing to sell most of its stores to Yucaipa.

Separately, reports last week said Tesco took approximately $214 million in cash out of its U.S. operation last year as the chain was struggling with losses.

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