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Winn-Dixie bought by South Carolina grocer Bi-Lo for $560 million

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Supermarket chain Winn-Dixie is being sold in a deal valued at $560 million to Bi-Lo LLC, the companies said Monday, creating a huge grocery operator in the South.

Winn-Dixie has about 30 stores in the Tampa Bay area. There is no plan to close any stores or change the name of those stores at this time.

Bi-Lo, based in Greenville, S.C., runs 207 supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Winn-Dixie runs about 480 grocery stores, including about 380 in-store pharmacies, in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. It has about 46,000 employees.

Shares of Winn-Dixie jumped 70 percent Monday, ending the day on the Nasdaq market at $9.24. The company had struggled in the past, entering into bankruptcy protection in 2005, but has been revamping operations in recent years. Winn-Dixie emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2006. In its most recent quarter, Winn-Dixie's revenues rose 3 percent, yet the company posted a loss of about $24 million.

The combined company will have about 63,000 workers in eight states in the southern United States. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. will become a privately held subsidiary and its ticker will be removed from the Nasdaq. Bi-Lo is a private company.

Each Winn-Dixie stockholder gets $9.50 per share in cash, a 75 percent premium to the Jacksonville company's Friday closing stock price. At that price, the deal would be valued at slightly more than $530 million.

The companies said Monday that no store closings are expected and the name Winn-Dixie will remain because of its strong brand recognition in the South.

"With no overlap in our markets, the combined company will have a perfect geographic fit that will create a stronger platform from which to provide our customers great products at a great value, while continuing to offer exceptional service," said Bi-Lo chairman Randall Onstead.

Winn-Dixie's board unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close in the next 60 to 120 days. The management structure and headquarters have yet to be determined, but the companies anticipate keeping sites in both Greenville and Jacksonville.

Winn-Dixie bought by South Carolina grocer Bi-Lo for $560 million 12/19/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011 8:50pm]
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