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Reuters reports that "a handful of buyout firms, including Cerberus Capital Management LP, are exploring a deal for all or part of supermarket chain Safeway ... in what could potentially shape up to be one of the largest leveraged buyouts since the financial crisis."

Safeway is the nation's second largest supermarket chain. The story notes that while Safeway has not said it is for sale, it is "aware" of the talk and is consulting with Goldman Sachs regarding its options. The conversations appear to be at an "early stage."

According to Reuters, there seems to be a general sense that Safeway is in play: "Activist investor Jana Partners LLC reported a 6.2 percent stake in Safeway in September, saying the company's shares are undervalued, and it held talks with Safeway management about reviewing strategic alternatives. In response to Jana's disclosure, Safeway had adopted a so-called poison pill to prevent an unwanted takeover of the company. Its board also had authorized $2 billion in stock repurchases and announced plans to exit the Chicago market."

Cerberus, of course, is no stranger to the supermarket industry. Earlier this year, the company led an investment consortium that acquired numerous grocery banners - including Albertsons and Jewel-Osco - from Supervalu for $3.3 billion.
KC's View:
There is a sense out there right now that a number of companies are in play, that the climate seems to be right for big moves that could reshape the food retailing landscape. So while I don't think anything will happen anytime soon, I don't count anything out. There are always, as Spock says, possibilities.