The governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts in a joint statement Friday evening said all parties in the Demoulas Super Markets dispute were close to a deal to sell the beleaguered Market Basket chain to ousted president Arthur T. Demoulas, and that Demoulas could return to operating authority on an interim basis within days.
Demoulas in a separate statement confirmed he had submitted an offer to buy the shares he does not own in the company and that he "expects that this purchase can and should be finalized immediately."
However, neither the company, its board of directors, nor its majority shareholders had confirmed a deal as of late Friday. Reports as recently as Friday morning said the company was considering other offers. And Demoulas's statement read as though he may still be trying to influence an outcome.
"The bid remains at full price and its terms are extremely favorable to the sellers," the Demoulas statement said. "There is nothing that stands in the way of getting this done this weekend. It’s time to complete this deal so we can all get back to doing what we love doing, and that is running Market Basket."
Demoulas' offer for the 50.5% of the company he does not own was said to be $1.5 billion, and includes a $500 million loan from an unidentified private equity firm, and a mortgage loan backed by the company's real estate holdings, according to the Boston Globe, citing advisors to Demoulas. Majority shareholders had previously said they had offered to loan Arthur T. funds to make a deal, but conditions around that offer were a topic of dispute between the parties.
The board was expected to meet over the weekend, reports said.
The statement from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and New Hampshire counterpart Maggie Hassan, said: "In briefings today, all parties report that they are optimistic that an agreement will be reached to sell the company to Arthur T. Demoulas and to restore him to operating authority on an interim basis until the sale closes. Subject to reducing their agreement in principle to writing by Sunday, the Board will forestall taking adverse employment action against the employees who have abandoned their jobs. We are hopeful that employees will return to work, and the stores will reopen, early next week."
Market Basket has been virtually shut down as a result of employee walkouts and a customer boycott for five weeks. The protests followed Arthur T. Demoulas's firing by the board in late June.
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