Albertsons starts strategic review, shares rise

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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Customers leave an Albertsons grocery store with their purchases in Burbank

(Corrects headline to strategic “review”, from “options”)

– Albertsons Cos Inc said on Monday it had started a review of potential strategic alternatives, including financial deals, nearly two years after the U.S. grocer went public.

Shares in Albertsons, which last month posted a bigger-than-expected third-quarter profit, increased nearly 10% in extended trading.

The review will also include an assessment of various strategies to optimize the balance sheet and return capital, development of other initiatives to complement existing businesses and responding to inquiries, Albertsons said.

The parent of Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco and Shaw’s stores got off to a disappointing debut on the New York Stock Exchange, but its shares have since bounced back to close up around 80% above its IPO price on Monday.

Albertsons, which operates more than 2,270 stores across 34 states, said its board had not set a timetable for the conclusion of this review. It added the review might not result in any deal or other strategic change or outcome.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons has retained Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to serve as financial advisers to assist in the review, the supermarket chain said.

Albertsons and Kroger Co have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic as many Americans have taken to cooking at home, but investors are worried the sales growth would only taper as people venture out and inflation leads to higher prices of groceries.

Albertsons last month also said the Omicron coronavirus variant had put a dent on the recovery of its supply chain, and also forecast the issues to linger for a longer duration.

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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