In this Jan. 23, 2013 photo, trailers line up at the loading docks at the Supervalu distribution center in Hopkins, Minn. United Natural Foods is buying Supervalu for $1.26 billion, creating a grocery food wholesaler with a diverse customer base. United Natural Foods of Providence, R.I., said Thursday, July 26, 2018, it's paying $32.50 per share in cash, or a premium of 67 percent, for each share of Supervalu Inc. Including the assumption of debt, the deal is valued at nearly $3 billion. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

United Natural Foods to buy Supervalu for $1.26 billion

July 26, 2018 - 1:40 pm

United Natural Foods is buying Supervalu for $1.26 billion, creating a grocery food wholesaler with a diverse customer base.

United Natural Foods of Providence, Rhode Island, said Thursday it's paying $32.50 per share in cash, or a premium of 67 percent, for each share of Supervalu Inc. Including the assumption of debt, the deal is valued at nearly $3 billion.

Over time, the company will divest Supervalu's retail operations, which operate under names including Cub Foods and Hornbacher's.

The combined company expects to generate more than $175 million in savings by the third year after closing.

"With extremely thin margins at Supervalu and organic growth opportunities hard to come by due to the challenging business environment for its wholesale distribution customers, which are primarily independent food retailers or small retail grocery chains that are challenged the most in the current promotional environment," said Moody's Vice President Mickey Chadha, "it makes sense to join forces with UNFI which has over 35 percent of its sales to grocery stores that specialize in faster growing natural and organic foods, including Whole Foods."

The Minneapolis grocer reported separately that quarterly sales rose 35 percent, with wholesale sales up 49 percent. The company swung to a first-quarter loss of $21 million, or 70 cents per share.

In midday trading Supervalu shares soared 64 percent to $31.97. The stock had been down 22 percent in the past year.

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