Albertsons Cos., the grocery-chain operator backed by Cerberus Capital Management, has held preliminary talks to merge with Sprouts Farmers Market Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said.
The discussions, which took place in recent weeks, are at an early stage and may not lead to a deal, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private details. The talks have involved a plan to take organic grocer Sprouts private and add it to Albertsons’ portfolio, which includes eponymous grocery stores and the Safeway store brand,
Representatives for Cerberus and Sprouts didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment outside of normal business hours.
Sprouts, based in Phoenix, has a market value of $3 billion. The stock rose 23 percent last week, paring its decline in the past year to 26 percent.
Cerberus first invested in Albertsons in 2006, then bought another group of stores in 2013 from SuperValu Inc. Albertsons agreed in 2014 to acquire Safeway Inc. in a deal valued at about $9.2 billion, which was completed the following year.
In 2015, Cerberus began plans to float Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons, which now operates more than 2,200 stores, but delayed the plans amid unfavorable market conditions.
New York-based Cerberus, led by billionaire Steve Feinberg, manages more than $30 billion in private equity holdings, distressed debt, other credit assets and real estate.
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