The new owner of Tampa-based Sweetbay Supermarket plans to become a public company.
According to Reuters, Jacksonville's Bi-Lo Holdings, the nation's ninth-largest traditional supermarket chain, is working toward an initial public offering later this year and has tapped banks to lead the deal.
Bi-Lo, which owns Winn-Dixie and several other grocery chains, bought the struggling Sweetbay chain earlier this summer. Bi-Lo recently hired Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank to help with the IPO, Reuters said, citing unidentified sources.
Winn-Dixie's 480 stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi continue to operate as a Bi-Lo subsidiary under the Winn-Dixie brand. In May, Bi-Lo bought 165 stores — including the Sweetbay chain — from Food Lion parent Delhaize Group for $265 million in cash.
Dallas-based Lone Star, a large private equity firm, bought Bi-Lo in 2005 for $660 million. Lone Star declined to comment to Reuters.