Speculation began late last week that Southeastern Grocers, the fifth-largest conventional supermarket in the U.S., could be facing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The company employs more than 50,000 associates who serve customers in grocery stores, liquor stores and in-store pharmacies throughout the seven southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina.
More than a decade after it emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring, several reports in recent days say debt issues could force Winn-Dixie’s current owner, Southeastern Grocers LLC, into another Chapter 11 reorganization filing.
Moody’s Investors Service last week downgraded its ratings on Southeastern, saying the supermarket company’s operating performance is improving but it is having difficulty paying $900 million in debt coming due in the next two years.
Bloomberg News reported holders of those bonds are considering a debt-for-equity swap that would give them ownership stakes.
The report said that swap could be done in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, but it could also be done out of court.
Southeastern Grocers spokesman Joe Caldwell said by email Tuesday that the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.
However, he added, “we are undertaking a strategic review as part of our refinancing efforts leading up to our unsecured bond maturity next year. In the meantime, our business operations are strong, and every day we continue to serve our customers with quality and commitment and work seamlessly with our vendors and partners”