STUDIO CITY (CBS/AP) — Safeway says it has agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management, the owner of Albertsons and several other supermarket chains.
The acquisition is worth about $7.64 billion in cash, and pending other transactions could top more than $9 billion.
It comes amid ongoing consolidation in the supermarket industry, which is facing growing competition from big-box retailers, specialty chains, drug stores and even dollar stores.
In a statement, Bob Miller, the CEO of Albertsons, said, "This transaction offers us the opportunity to better serve customers by adapting more quickly to evolving shopping preferences in diverse regions across the country."
Phil Lempert of SupermarketGuru.com predicts the sale will signal a change in the way people buy their groceries.
"This is game-changing for consumers and for the entire food world," he said. "The conventional supermarket that is 50,000 to 60,000 square feet and that has 40,000 products…that's a bygone era. We really don't want to shop that way anymore."
Lempert believes the supermarket chain will close some stores, sell others and remodel the remaining shops to resemble smaller markets.
"It's not about piling it high and selling it cheap," he said.
Some shoppers at Vons in Studio City said they liked the idea of taking the super out of market.
"I love the specialty stores. I like to go in and find the things I want," a patron said.
Another shopper said, "I think prices are going to go up because there's no competition."
Cerberus bought five chains including Albertsons and Jewel-Osco from Supervalu Inc. last year. Kroger Co. also recently snapped up regional chain Harris Teeter.
Safeway shareholders will receive $32.50 per share in cash. Pending other deals, the company says the deal is worth roughly $40 per share to stockholders.
Shares of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway Inc. closed at $39.47 Thursday.
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