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Bi-Lo buyout should mean no local changes

In a transaction set to close during the first quarter of 2005, Bi-Lo supermarkets will be sold to the Dallas, Tex.-based investment company Lone Star Funds.

It's too early to tell if there will be any store closings or major changes at Bi-Lo supermarkets, said Owen Blick-silver, a spokesman for Lone Star.

As far as Thomson Bi-Lo Manager Rick McCorkle can tell, the sale will not affect his store. Although the deal took place last week, no announcements have been made about adjustments to the Thomson branch.

"They say no changes," Mr. McCorkle said. "They say everything's going to run as is."

The transaction also will include Bruno's supermarkets. Both Bi-Lo and Bruno's are owned by Ahold USA Inc., a subsidiary of Royal Ahold NV, based in the Netherlands.

The transaction is valued at $660 million, according to a media release from Ahold.

There are 14 Bi-Lo locations in the Augusta-Aiken area. Management at each store will be kept on, Mr. Blicksilver said.

Bi-Lo stores will continue to sell many of the brand names currently offered, according to a Bi-Lo media release.

Ahold sold the Bi-Lo and Bruno's stores as part of a plan to reduce debt. The company has struggled, and the sale is meant to help it rebound.

The transaction will help to make Bi-Lo better, Dean Cohagan, Bi-Lo's president and CEO, said in a statement.

"We will now become a regional supermarket operator, one that will be fast-moving, flexible and responsive," he said.

Bi-Lo's headquarters are in Mauldin, S.C., and it operates 287 stores in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee - employing about 23,000 associates.

Lone Star manages more than $13 billion in assets internationally, with business holdings in industries including financial services, real estate, golf courses, hotels and restaurants.

McDuffie Mirror Staff Writer Kristopher Wells contributed to this story.

Web posted on Thursday, January 6, 2005


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