Now that supermarket giant the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (more commonly known as A&P) has found itself in Chapter 22, three competing grocers are lining up to fork over about $430 million for 120 locations.

A&P's filing came just few years after the last time the grocer wound up in bankruptcy, in 2010. It exited the previous case in 2012.

Stalking horse, or lead, bids for A&P's stores were filed by Acme Markets Inc., the Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC and Key Food Stores Co-Operative Inc.

Acme, headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, is offering to buy 76 A&P, Superfresh and Pathmark-branded stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania for $256 million. 

The potential buyer is a wholly owned subsidiary of supermarket chain Albertsons, and operates 107 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. Albertsons, in 2013, added Acme to its roster of grocery holdings, which also includes Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market and Carrs.

Staten Island, New York-based Key Food has agreed to bid $28 million for 19 Food Basics, Waldbaums, A&P and Pathmark stores. Stop & Shop, headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, is offering $146 million for 25 A&P, Pathmark and Waldbaums locations.

If the bankruptcy court approves the sales, each retail chain would be able to rapidly expand their respective footprints.

A&P filed for bankruptcy on July 19, during a time when consumers have options to shop at specialty chains such as Whole Foods or buy groceries at retail giants, including Target and WalMart. The company hired FTI Consulting in January as financial adviser. For more on grocery trends, check out Grocers Grow.

In addition to its sale motion, A&P won approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains for a $100 million junior third lien debtor-in-possession loan – saying that it needed at least $50 million immediately to avoid problems, according to a declaration submitted by FTI senior managing director Michael Nowlan. That loan was approved at the company's first-day hearing on July 20. 

A&P operates more than 300 supermarkets, beer, wine and liquor stores, food and drug-store combinations, and limited-assortment food stores in the Northeast. The company's brands include A&P, Waldbaum's SuperFresh, Pathmark, Food Basics, The Food Emporium, Best Cellars and A&P Liquors. In addition to the sales, the chain will close 25 locations. 

A&P said it had $1.6 billion in assets and $2.3 billion in liabilities as of Feb. 28. 

Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP is serving as A&P's bankruptcy counsel, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP is serving as A&P's outside legal counsel for antitrust matters, and Greenberg Traurig LLP is providing legal advice on real estate. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and Bank of American Merrill Lynch have committed financing for the transaction.

For the previous edition of Turnaround Tuesday, see Daybreak Oil Reports More Losses in Volatile Crude Climate. For a list of other struggling companies, check out Mergers & Acquisitions Distressed Company Watch List

 

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