27 Balducci’s, Kings Food supermarkets sold to Acme Markets in bankruptcy auction

ACME Markets, Inc., a division of Albertsons Companies offered the winning bid

A Balducci's gourmet grocery in Rye Brook, N.Y. (Google Street View)

More than two dozen Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lover’s Markets are being sold for $96.4 million in cash in a bankruptcy auction.

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Acme Markets, Inc., a division of Albertsons Companies, announced it was the successful bidder for the 27 supermarkets on Wednesday.

“We are excited to add these two premium, gourmet banners to our east coast operations, and plan to continue to operate the stores as Kings Food Market and Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market, respectively,” Jim Perkins, Mid-Atlantic division president said.

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Malvern, Pa.-based Acme said the deal hinges on the approval of federal regulators and the bankruptcy judge.

The company operates Acme and Safeway supermarkets on the East Coast.

Kings Food and Balducci’s KB US Holdings, Parsippany, N.J., became the latest grocer to fall on hard times when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August in New York.

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M. Benjamin Jones, senior managing director at Ankura Consulting Group, said competition, low earnings and a heavy debt load impaired KB’s ability to invest in its stores and technology infrastructure, Supermarket News reported.

KB retained Ankura as a financial adviser two years ago to evaluate strategic options for the business, the news outlet reported.

At the time of the bankruptcy filing TLI Bedrock, led by real-estate investor Lawrence Benenson, agreed to pay $75 million for KB’s assets.

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In an Oct. 14 bankruptcy court filing, that stalking-horse bid was designated as the backup bid, according to Supermarkete News.