C&S Wholesale Grocers, with the financial support of SoftBank Group (TYO: 9984), is edging closer to a significant deal. According to an insider familiar with the situation who spoke to Reuters on Tuesday, C&S is in the final stages of negotiations to acquire a selection of stores that Kroger (NYSE: KR) and Albertsons Companies Inc. intend to offload. This strategic move aims to secure the necessary regulatory approvals for their massive $25 billion merger.
As of now, specific details about the deal, including its total value and the number of stores involved, remain undisclosed.
C&S Wholesale Grocers, a notable player in the grocery distribution industry, faced a substantial setback in 2019 when it lost one of its primary clients, Ahold Delhaize, due to the supermarket group’s shift toward self-distribution. To mitigate this loss, C&S is now looking to bolster its portfolio through strategic acquisitions.
Bloomberg News initially broke the story, speculating that C&S could make an official announcement regarding the acquisition of most, if not all, of the stores divested by Kroger and Albertsons. These divestitures are being executed primarily for antitrust reasons and may come to light as early as this week.
As of now, representatives from Kroger, Albertsons, C&S Wholesale Grocers, and SoftBank have refrained from offering any official comments or statements to Reuters.
Back in February, Reuters had reported on Kroger and Albertsons’ intentions to sell between 250 and 300 stores, a strategic move designed to address concerns related to antitrust regulations stemming from their merger. These stores, scattered across various regions where the two companies operate, including the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Phoenix, and Chicago, could collectively amount to a value exceeding $1 billion.
In March, both companies reiterated their commitment to divest a portion of their stores to obtain the necessary regulatory clearance for their ambitious merger. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tasked with scrutinizing Kroger’s proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons, now faces mounting pressure from certain U.S. lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups. These stakeholders are raising concerns that the merger could potentially lead to increased grocery prices, further intensifying the regulatory spotlight on this major corporate development.