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Report: BI-LO Looking To Go Public

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Privately owned BI-LO Holdings LLC, which bought Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. last year, is planning an initial public offering later this year, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Citing two unnamed sources “familiar with the matter,” Reuters said BI-LO already has hired three investment banks to lead the underwriting group for the IPO.

Winn-Dixie spokesman Brian Wright told the Jacksonville Daily Record the company had no comment on the report.

After acquiring Winn-Dixie in March 2012, South Carolina-based BI-LO put the merged headquarters of the two supermarket chains in Winn-Dixie’s offices at 5050 Edgewood Ct. in Jacksonville.

Randall Onstead, president and CEO of BI-LO, moved to Jacksonville after the merger to run the combined company.

BI-LO has been owned by Dallas-based private equity firm Lone Star Funds since 2005. Since the merger with Winn-Dixie, there has been speculation that Lone Star would look to cash in on its investment with an IPO at some point, so the Reuters report is not a surprise, according to the Record.

The company currently operates nearly 700 supermarkets in eight southeastern states under both the Winn-Dixie and BI-LO names. It employs about 60,000 people.

BI-LO also announced a deal in May to buy the Sweetbay, Harvey’s and Reid’s supermarket chains, with 165 stores in the Southeast, from the Delhaize Group.

BI-LO has cut some jobs since the Winn-Dixie merger, but Onstead said in May that the acquisition of those three chains from Delhaize could result in more jobs at the company’s headquarters in Jacksonville as the company grows.

Onstead also said the company is scouting for new locations for Winn-Dixie stores, including possible sites in Jacksonville.

BI-LO has not reported any financial data since the merger but Forbes magazine last year said it is the 33rd largest privately held company in the U.S. with $9.4 billion in annual sales.

Reuters said BI-LO has retained Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse AG and Deutsche Bank AG as its lead underwriters.

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