Winn-Dixie to merge with N.C.-based Bi-Lo

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie — which operates a grocery store in Atmore — has been bought by Bi-Lo of North Carolina, creating an even larger grocery operator in the South.

The two companies’ stores do not overlap, and the merger creates a company with about 690 grocery stores in eight states.

Winn-Dixie, which has been traded publicly, will revert to a private subsidiary under Bi-Lo, a private company.
But the Winn-Dixie store name — highly recognizable in its markets — is expected to remain the same. The company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2005, has been revamping operations and grown stronger in recent years. Neither company anticipates any store closures as a result of the merger.

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Under the terms of the agreement, BI-LO will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Winn-Dixie stock in the merger. Winn-Dixie shareholders will receive $9.50 in cash per share of Winn-Dixie common stock, representing a premium of approximately 75 percent over the closing price of Winn-Dixie common stock on Dec. 16.

“We are very excited about the merger of BI-LO and Winn-Dixie,” said Randall Onstead, Chairman of BI-LO. “With no overlap in our markets, the combined company will have a perfect geographic fit that will create a stronger platform from which to provide our customers great products at a great value, while continuing to offer exceptional service. BI-LO and Winn-Dixie are both strong regional brands with similar heritages, compelling customer connections, and outstanding employees. Both have been an important part of the communities and families they serve, and we look forward to building upon these two iconic brands and serving loyal customers for years to come.”

Winn-Dixie CEO Peter Lynch said he believes the company will be stronger.

“This transaction with BI-LO provides Winn-Dixie shareholders with a significant cash premium for their shares. We believe this transaction is in the best interests of our shareholders,” Lynch said. “By combining BI-LO and Winn-Dixie, we anticipate building a company that is stronger than our individual businesses and creating opportunities for continued advancement through the cross-pollination of our people and the sharing of ideas across our organizations, all to the benefit of our guests, suppliers, team members and the neighborhoods that Winn-Dixie serves.”

Until the merger is complete, both BI-LO and Winn-Dixie will continue to operate as separate companies.

The combined company’s executive management team structure and headquarters location will be decided as the companies move closer to finalizing the transaction; however, it is expected that the combined company will maintain a presence in both Greenville and Jacksonville.

Founded in 1961 and headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Bi-Lo operates 207 supermarkets, including approximately 116 in-store pharmacies, in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. The company employs approximately 17,000 people.
Founded in 1925 and headquartered in Jacksonville, Winn-Dixie operates approximately 480 retail grocery locations, including approximately 380 in-store pharmacies, in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. The company employs approximately 46,000 people.