by: Business Staff, Austin American-Statesman
Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers about making a bid for Whole Foods, the Financial Times reported, citing a person close to the buyout firm. No formal bid has yet been made, according to two people briefed on the situation.
Whole Foods’ shares jumped more than 4 percent in afternoon trading following the Financial Times’ report.
The reported interest from Albertsons comes about two weeks after investment group Jana Partners revealed it had built a 9 percent stake in Whole Foods and raised the possibility of either a management shakeup or even a sale for the company. Whole Foods has a current market value of about $11 billion.
Also, online retail giant Amazon last year considered making a takeover bid for Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc., but decided not to pursue a deal, Bloomberg news service reported last week.
A number of factors, including intensified competition, have hit the Austin-based Whole Foods hard, leading to struggles in recent quarters. A March report from a Barclays analyst, for instance, suggested Whole Foods had lost 14 million customers since 2015 – many of them to Kroger, which has stepped up its organic offerings.
Founded in Austin in 1978, Whole Foods has 462 stores worldwide and 87,000 employees. In its fiscal first quarter, Whole Foods recorded record sales of $4.9 billion, but saw its net income decline and also lowered its earnings projections for the year.