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Wakefern Bids on 12 A&P Stores

Wakefern Food Corp., the retailer cooperative whose members operate ShopRite supermarkets in the Northeast, has made a $40 million bid for 12 stores owned by the bankrupt Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P), according to court filings. The 12 stores operate under the A&P, Pathmark and Waldbaum's banners and are located in upstate New York; Long Island, N.Y.; Connecticut and the greater Philadelphia area.

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern is one of four new stalking-horse bidders to join the competition to purchase A&P's stores. The designation means that it will get court approval for purchasing the locations it wants if no rival bids are submitted; however, if another "qualified" bidder comes forward, an auction for the stores at issue will take place on Oct. 8.

The other stalking-horse bidders are small grocery chain Morton Williams, which is interested in three Manhattan Food Emporium stores, for which it's willing to pay more than $22 million; New York metro-area operator Food Bazaar, which is bidding $11.75 million for four stores under the Pathmark, A&P and Food Basics banners in Brooklyn and New Jersey; and real estate developer Federal Realty Investment Trust, which has bid more than $6 million on three stores – an A&P, a Pathmark and a Waldbaum’s – in Long Island and New Jersey.

Previously, A&P got the go-ahead from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain, who is presiding over the Montvale, N.J.-based grocer’s Chapter 11 protection process, to sell 70 of its stores to Acme Markets and 24 to Stop & Shop. All of the company's remaining stores without stalking-horse bidders will be included in a so-called "global" auction, which is set for Oct. 1-2.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal has reported that A&P paid $9.4 million in bonuses and other extra payments to eight unidentified business executives in the 12 months before it declared bankruptcy this past July, an account that appears to support unions’ allegations that the company is more interested in lining insiders’ pockets than in keeping stores open.

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