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Safeway completes sale of Canadian operations

PLEASANTON, Calif. (AP) -- Safeway Inc. said Monday that it has completed the sale of its Canadian operations to Sobeys Inc.

The U.S. grocery chain said in June that it was selling Canada Safeway ULC to the Canadian food retailer for 5.8 billion Canadian dollars ($5.7 billion).

Sobeys is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Company Ltd. The transaction includes 213 grocery stores, 62 fuel stations, 10 liquor stores, 12 manufacturing facilities and four distribution centers. That leaves Safeway with about 1,400 supermarkets in the U.S., which it operates under banners such as Safeway, Vons, Randalls and Tom Thumb.

Safeway said Monday that it will use the proceeds to pay down $2 billion in debt, with remaining money to buy back stock or invest in growth opportunities.

Shares of the Pleasanton, Calif., company increased 12 cents to $35.28 by midday, in line with broader market activity.