FTC Requires Bi-Lo to Sell 12 Supermarkets as a Condition of Acquiring Stores from Delhaize America

Washington, DC - Grocery store operator Bi-Lo Holdings, LLC, the parent of BI-LO and Winn Dixie grocery store chains, has agreed to sell 12 supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its proposed $265 million acquisition of 154 stores from Delhaize America - 73 Sweetbay supermarkets (and leases to 10 closed stores), as well as 71 Harveys supermarkets and 10 Reid’s supermarkets - would harm competition in several local markets in those states.

The FTC settlement preserves competition in 11 local markets in the three states. According to the FTC’s complaint, Bi-Lo’s proposed acquisition of the Delhaize stores would likely harm consumers through higher prices, diminished quality and reduced service levels in: Arcadia, Dunnellon, Lake Placid, Madison, and Wauchula, Florida; Bainbridge, Statesboro, Sylvania, Vidalia, and Waynesboro, Georgia; and Batesburg, South Carolina. 

The proposed order settling the Commission’s charges, requires the merged Bi-Lo/Delhaize to sell 12 stores to Rowes IGA Supermarkets, HAC, Inc., W. Lee Flowers & Co., Inc. and Food Giant. Details about each purchase are set forth in the analysis to aid public comment for this matter on the FTC website. 

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Bi-Lo will acquire the Delhaize stores on a rolling basis, through eight separate deal closings over a 10-week period. Each supermarket divestiture must be completed within 10 days of the respective Bi-Lo/Delhaize closing date. 

Bi-Lo is the parent company of the BI-LO and Winn Dixie grocery store chains, with 685 supermarkets located in the southeastern United States. Its majority owner is Lone Star Funds, a firm that specializes in distressed assets. Delhaize America is a subsidiary of Belgian grocery store operator Delhaize. It owns and operates 1,553 supermarkets in the Northeast and Southeast under six banners: Food Lion, Sweetbay, Harveys, Reid’s, Hannaford, and Bottom Dollar Food.

The Commission vote to accept the consent agreement package containing the proposed consent order for public comment was 4-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through March 27, 2014, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit written comments electronically or in paper form by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section.

Comments in paper form should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions. Comments also can be submitted electronically.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action.  To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to antitrust{at}ftc{dot}gov, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 601 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Room 7117, Washington, DC 20001.  To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read Competition Counts. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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