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Piggly Wiggly Parent’s Shares Virtually Worthless: Report

Greenbax Enterprises, the employee-owned parent company of Charleston, S.C.-based Piggly Wiggly Carolina, is now worth so little that former workers won’t receive stock payments this year, according to a published report citing a letter sent by Greenbax President David R. Schools to participants in the grocer’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

“The company has no positive value,” Schools noted in the letter, adding that because of Greenbax’s financial obligations and its assets’ negative value, “there will be no ... distribution this year.”

Joe Pinto, a former employee of Piggly Wiggly for almost 40 years, told the Charleston Post & Courier that at one time, Greenbax shares were worth more than $700 each.

Schools’ letter arrived a year after a group of former employees brought a federal lawsuit against the grocer, seeking millions of dollars in lost retirement money and alleging that mismanagement and self-enrichment by top executives resulted in the ESOP’s dwindling value.

Piggly Wiggly has faced grave financial difficulties since 2013, which it attempted to stem by shedding assets and selling stores to such regional competitors as Bi-Lo and Harris Teeter. The last company-owned store in the Charleston area was sold last spring.

In his letter, Schools said the company and its subsidiaries would keep selling off assets “to wind down the business,” and that Greenbax would attempt to eliminate its overhead expenses so that future distributions might possibly be made to ESOP participants.

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