U.S. supermarket operator Albertsons is exploring a takeover of Whole Foods Market Inc. , the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing two people briefed on the matter. Albertsons is owned by private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which has held preliminary talks with bankers on a bid for Whole Foods, the paper reported. The news comes just weeks after hedge fund Jana Partners LLC said it had amassed a 9% stake in Whole Foods, and was urging it to look at a possible sale, change its management board and revise contracts with suppliers and others. Whole Foods has hired Evercore ISI to advise it on a deal that includes a possible sale of the company, according to the FT. Shares jumped 3% on the news, and are up 20% in 2017, while the S&P 500 has gained 5%.
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