Albertsons, Rite Aid to merge

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Before coming to Rite Aid, he was CEO of Fred Meyer, a grocery chain in the Northwest U.S.

Rite Aid Corporation has a consensus hold rating from 9 Wall Street analysts, and the number of shares now sold short amount to at least 13.76% of shares outstanding. "Taking care of customers and patients is a top priority".

Beyond that both chains have invested in improving their beauty and wellness products and remodeled many stores, something that was hard for Rite Aid to do, struggling with all that debt.

That deal, reached after US anti-trust regulators scuttled the $9.5 billion acquisition originally planned, dramatically lowered Rite Aid's debt load, taking it down to $3 billion or so from $7 billion. Leaders of both companies said the deal will help attract pharmacy customers who tend to spend more at Albertsons grocery stores.

"The combined platform positions Rite Aid to capitalize on our pharmacy expertise and expand and enhance our pharmacy footprint", Standley said in a statement issued with the announcement. The remainder of Rite Aid's stores - around 2,000 locations - will be sold to Walgreens Boots Alliance under an agreement reached with federal regulators, which blocked a full merger of the two companies back in 2015. Shareholders of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons, which is now private held, will own more than 70 percent of the combined company.

Rite Aid Chairman and CEO John Standley will lead the combined company as CEO, while Albertsons leader Bob Miller will serve as chairman.

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Most Albertsons pharmacies will be given the Rite Aid name, and the combined company will continue to run Rite Aid stand-alone pharmacies, the companies said. The company has been hit as other retail landlords, namely mall owners, are under fire after news of store closures and tenants going bankrupt.

Reports over the past several months linked Albertsons to a few major deals that ended up falling through. The transaction is expected to close during the second half of 2018.

Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs & Co. Citi served as exclusive financial advisor to Rite Aid, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP acted as legal advisor. And this deal will make Albertsons a stock exchange listed company once again, allowing Cerberus to start exiting its investment.

"As a long-term partner to Albertsons Companies' world-class management team, this transaction highlights Cerberus's confidence in this team and our convictions to the underlying customer focus driving this combination", said Lenard Tessler, Vice Chairman and Senior Managing Director at Cerberus Capitol Management, which is leading of a group of investors backing Albertsons' merge.

Immediately following the merger's completion, if all Rite Aid shareholders elect to receive shares plus cash, Albertsons Cos. will have approximately 392.9 million shares outstanding on a pro forma and fully diluted basis.

Albertsons, which did not disclose the deal's value, is offering either a share of its stock and $1.83 in cash or slightly more than a share for every 10 shares of Rite Aid.

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