A Canadian private-equity firm has emerged as the leading bidder to acquire the Save-A-Lot discount chain from Supervalu, according to reports late Thursday.
Rueters said late Thursday that Toronto-based Onex was the lead bidder in an auction conducted as a potential alternative to Supervalu's previous plan to spin off the discount division to a publicly traded company controlled by Supervalu shareholders. The report, based on confidential sources, said the Minneapolis-based wholesaler could make a final decision on the business within a few weeks.
A Supervalu spokesman told SN the company had no comment on the report. Onex was not immediately available for comment. Although a plan to spin off Save-A-Lot had been in the works for more than a year, Supervalu officials said last month that it was also considering an outright sale of the business and was in talks with potential buyers.
An industrywide downturn in sales performance this year, triggering reduced valuations for publicly traded food retailers including Supervalu, may have made a public offering difficult at this time, sources said.
Save-A-Lot operates more than 1,300 corporate and licensed discount stores.
This story was updated to reflect response from Supervalu and correct the number of stores.