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Supervalu shares drop on report that Cerberus buyout talks stalled

Updated: January 1, 2013 6:36AM

Jewel-Osco parent Supervalu Inc. refuted a report that its efforts to find a buyer have stalled.

Shares of Supervalu fell sharply Thursday following a report by Bloomberg that the struggling grocer’s talks with potential buyer Cerberus Capital Management LP have come to a standstill.

Supervalu spokesman Mike Siemienas said the company’s review of its strategic options is still under way. He said the company is in active dialogue with a number of interested parties but there is no guarantee of the outcome.

Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, reported that Cerberus’ pursuit of the grocery chain have stalled because the private-equity firm has had trouble obtaining the funds for a leveraged buyout.

A representative for Cerberus was not immediately available to comment.

Shares fell 52 cents, or 18.6 percent, to close at $2.28 Thursday. Its stock has lost more than 70 percent of its value since January.

Supervalu, based in Eden Prarie, Minn., announced in July that it was looking at its strategic options, including putting itself up for sale. The company has also suspended its dividend, closed stores, cut staff and replaced its CEO in the past year.

Supervalu has struggled for a number of years to turn around its business. It was an industry laggard prior to the recession and was getting a revamp ready when the economy crumbled. It has been unable to keep up with the intense competition of other grocers, big box store and discount retailers.

In addition to Jewel, Supervalu owns the Albertsons, Save-A-Lot and other grocery chains.

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