By Harry Brumpton and Joshua Franklin
(Reuters) – Smart & Final Stores Inc (SFS.N), a U.S. food retailer controlled by private equity firm Ares Management Corp (ARES.N), is exploring options that include a sale of the company, according to people familiar with the matter.
An outright sale would allow Ares to cash out on its majority stake in Smart & Final. It acquired the company in 2012 from fellow buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) for $975 million, including debt.
Ares took Smart & Final public in 2014 at a price of $12 per share. The shares have lost close to half their value since then, as the company has struggled in a tough environment for brick-and-mortar retailers.
Smart & Final, based in Commerce, California, is working with investment banks on a sale process, and has reached out to private equity firms that could be potential acquirers, the sources said on Monday.
There is no certainty Smart & Final will ultimately agree on a sale, the sources cautioned, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the deliberations.
Ares declined to comment. A representative for Smart & Final said the company is focused on executing its strategic plan and that its longstanding policy is not to comment on market rumors or speculation.