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Grocer Supervalu Said to Work With Adviser on Possible Sale

The potential sale comes as the grocery industry has been rattled by Amazon.com Inc.’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc.

(Bloomberg)—Retailer Supervalu Inc. is working with an adviser to consider options including a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

Supervalu is mainly a grocery wholesaler, providing products to more than 1,800 stores. The company also operates almost 200 locations after selling most of its brick-and-mortar operations in recent years. Its private label brands include Wild Harvest, for gluten-free diets, and Stone Ridge Creamery ice cream.

No final decision has been made and Supervalu may choose not to pursue a sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public.

Shares in the company jumped as much as 10 percent and traded 8.5 percent up to $16.59 at 3:11 p.m. in New York, giving Supervalu a market valuation of about $638 million. That rise sharply contrasted with the 2.6 percent decline in the S&P 500 Index.

A representative for Supervalu, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The potential sale comes as the grocery industry has been rattled by Amazon.com Inc.’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. With the e-commerce giant trying to gain a foothold in the fiercely competitive business, industry stalwarts Kroger Co. and Walmart Inc. have been ramping up their technology spending and expanding food delivery in a bid to lock in shoppers. The price war has put pressure on regional chains, which are struggling to compete.

Activist investor Blackwells Capital is waging a proxy fight at Supervalu and has nominated six directors for election at the company’s annual meeting. Blackwells has also called for Supervalu to sell 30 percent of its stores and to “unlock the value” of its owned real estate. In March, the company said it would sell 21 of its Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy stores to competitors.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ed Hammond in New York at [email protected]; Craig Giammona in New York at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elizabeth Fournier at [email protected] Michael Hytha

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