Bi-Lo completes Winn-Dixie buyout, replaces execs

Bi-Lo completes $560M acquisition of grocery chain Winn-Dixie, takes chain private

Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Supermarket chain Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. said on Friday that its acquisition by Bi-Lo LLC has been completed, creating a huge grocery operator in the South.

Winn-Dixie disclosed the milestone in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, and said it planned to issue a news release on Monday. Nearly 98 percent of the votes cast on Friday at a special meeting of Winn-Dixie shareholders were in favor of the transaction, the filing said.

The companies announced the agreement Dec. 19.

Each Winn-Dixie stockholder gets $9.50 per share in cash, a 75 percent premium to the Jacksonville, Fla., company's closing stock price on the day before the deal was announced. At that time, the deal was valued at $560 million.

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.

No store closings are expected as a result of the deal, and the name Winn-Dixie will remain because of its strong brand recognition in the South.

The regulatory filing said that Bi-Lo Chairman and CEO Randall Onstead was appointed on Friday as CEO of Winn-Dixie. He replaces Peter Lynch, who said in January that he planned to step down. Lynch had been Winn-Dixie CEO since 2005. He will continue to serve as an adviser to Onstead until April 4.

In addition, Chief Financial Officer Bennett Nussbaum resigned on Friday, as was planned. The entire board of the company has also been replaced.

Founded in 1925, Winn-Dixie had struggled in the past, entering into bankruptcy protection in 2005, but has been revamping operations in recent years. Shares of Winn-Dixie jumped more than 70 percent on the day the deal was announced, closing at $9.24 apiece.

The shares, which will now cease trading, added a penny to close at $9.51 on Friday.

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