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Walmart expands mobile checkout program to 200 stores

BY Jason Owen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Late last year, Walmart rolled out the pilot program for a new mobile initiative called "Scan & Go" to 70 stores in the Atlanta and Bentonville, Ark. areas, where the company is based. Now, the mass merchandise retailer is expanding the program after a successful test run.

The "Scan & Go" program allows shoppers to scan bar codes with their smartphones using the "Scan & Go" app, currently only available through Apple, while they’re in the aisles. The app generates a specific customer code, which is then scanned at self-checkout terminals when the customer is ready to leave.

"Our goal is to give choices to all of our customers however they want to shop," said Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of mobile and digital initiatives at WalMart’s global e-commerce division. "It’s part of a holistic program to empower the customer."

How the customer wants to shop is relying more and more on mobile devices, Walmart found. More than half of WalMart’s customers have smartphones, and 40 percent of traffic from walmart.com is coming from shoppers’ mobile devices, added Thomas.

With more than half of shoppers who tried the "Scan & Go" app using it again, Walmart notes the pilot program is resonating well with its customers, Thomas said. It presents a good way for shoppers to keep a running tally of how much they’re spending as they shop, as well as allowing customers to bag their own groceries how they see fit. "They like to bag items the way they keep their items in the house," he said.

The expansion will now see the program in more than 200 stores in markets including Dallas, Houston, Austin, Texas; Denver, Portland, Ore., Seattle, and Phoenix.

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Ahold plans completion of ICA sale Wednesday

BY Alaric DeArment

AMSTERDAM — Royal Ahold expects its deal to sell its share of the European supermarket chain ICA to Hakon Invest to be completed next Wednesday, the Dutch supermarket operator said Thursday.

Ahold said the conditions for the sale of its 60% stake in ICA to Swedish investor group Hakon Invest had been met.

Ahold announced the $3.3 billion deal in February. Based in Sweden, ICA also operates the ICA and Rimi chains in Norway and the Baltics. Ahold owns the Stop & Shop, Giant-Carlisle and Giant-Landover supermarket banners and the Peapod online grocery service in the United States. 

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Supervalu completes deal with AB Acquisition

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu on Thursday announced the completion of the sale of its Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Star Market stores and related Osco and Sav-on in-store pharmacies to AB Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of a Cerberus Capital Management-led investor consortium, in a stock deal valued at $3.3 billion, including $100 million in cash and $3.2 billion in debt assumption. 

“The successful completion of this transaction marks a significant milestone for Supervalu and our shareholders, customers and employees,” stated Sam Duncan, Supervalu president and CEO. “As we move forward, Supervalu will continue as one of the largest wholesale grocery providers in America serving nearly 2,000 independent retailers in 43 states; we plan to continue growing our hard discount Save-A-Lot format that includes over 1,300 stores nationwide; and we will operate five, strong regional retail banners.”

Operations for these banners will transfer overnight, and the new Supervalu will open for business on Friday as a more efficient wholesale and retail company with annual sales of approximately $17 billion.

As part of the transaction, Supervalu also announced that Symphony Investors, a Cerberus-led investor consortium, completed its tender offer resulting in the acquisition of 11.7 million shares at a purchase price of $4.00 per share in cash. In addition, pursuant to the terms of the transaction, the company issued 42.5 million new shares of common stock (approximately 19.9% of the outstanding shares) to Symphony Investors at a purchase price of $4.00 per share in cash to the company, or approximately $170 million. The tender offer and primary stock issuance establish Symphony Investors as Supervalu’s largest shareholder with 21.2% of total outstanding common shares.

With the close of the SUPERVALU Supervalu, Robert Miller, president and CEO of Albertsons LLC, becomes Supervalu’s new non-executive chairman replacing Wayne Sales, who has served as executive chairman since August 2012. Supervalu also announced that Sales will remain on the board as a director along with four other current board members — Donald Chappel, Irwin Cohen, Philip Francis and Matthew Rubel. As previously agreed upon by Supervalu and Symphony Investors, five directors voluntarily resigned from the Board effective today, including Ronald Daly, Susan Engel, Edwin “Skip” Gage, Steven Rogers and Kathi Seifert.

Lenard Tessler, a designee of Symphony Investors, also was appointed to the Supervalu board of directors today. He currently serves as co-head global private equity and senior managing director of Cerberus Capital Management. Prior to joining Cerberus in 2001, Tessler served as managing partner of TGV Partners from 1990 to 2001, a private equity firm that he founded. 

The seven-person board resulting from today’s transaction will have four members who are independent directors under the New York Stock Exchange listing standards. This seven-person board will now identify two additional independent directors. Upon the selection and appointment of these two directors, Duncan and Mark Neporent, a designee of Symphony Investors, will join the board increasing its final size to 11 directors.

Neporent is the chief operating officer and general counsel for Cerberus Capital Management, positions he has held with the firm since 1998. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the firm. 

Supervalu also confirmed that it has closed on a $1 billion asset based revolving credit facility led by Wells Fargo, US Bank and Rabobank and a $1.5 billion term loan secured by a portion of the Company’s real estate, equipment and an equity pledge of Moran Foods (the parent entity of the Save-A-Lot business) led by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Barclays. The proceeds of these financings replaced a previous $1.7 billion asset-based revolving credit facility, an existing $834 million term loan and a $200 million receivables financing facility and refinanced $490 million of 7.5% bonds scheduled to mature in November 2014.


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