Sale of Bi-Lo Not Likely Anytime Soon, Says CEO

MAULDIN, S.C. -- Regional chain Bi-Lo will not likely be sold in the near future, the company's president and c.e.o. reportedly said last week. For now, the grocer is focusing on reinvesting in its operations to strengthen its presence in the Southeast.

Brian Hotarek said in a memo to Bi-Lo's 17,000 employees that "there has been a lot of interest in the company," but "we do not anticipate a sale taking place in the near future" because of uncertainty and volatility in the financial markets, according to a report in the Greenville News. Specifically, he noted that the Bi-Lo advisory board has decided that the timing is not right to sell the company.

However, Hotarek reiterated that the company would be sold “if it's the right buyer, at the right price, at the right time,” in an interview with the newspaper.

Bi-Lo's parent company, Lone Star Funds, said in April it planned to seek a buyer for Bi-Lo. The private equity firm said it retained Merrill Lynch & Co. as the lead financial advisor and William Blair & Co. as the co-advisor for help in the strategic evaluation process. It decided to spin off sister chain Bruno's and operate it as a separate business.

Ed Trissel, a Lone Star spokesman, reportedly said the firm doesn't anticipate a sale occurring soon and, for now, Bi-Lo will focus on its strategic plan and company objectives.

Hotarek said Bi-Lo is on target with its capital-expense program, focusing on its core Southeastern markets, and increasing the company's investment in technology and customer-service initiatives.

Bi-Lo operates 225 stores in four Southeastern states.

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