comscore Safeway's shareholders OK purchase by Albertsons | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Safeway’s shareholders OK purchase by Albertsons

    Antitrust laws could force store closures in Safeway. This 2011 file photo shows Safeway on Beretania Street in Moiliili.

PLEASANTON, Calif. » Safeway shareholders Friday approved the company’s $9.2 billion sale to Albertsons, a deal that comes amid fierce competition for the combined supermarket chains from a host of foes.

About 96 percent of the outstanding shares of Safeway were voted in favor of the merger at a meeting at Safeway’s headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif.

The deal still needs to clear a review by the Federal Trade Commission, which could require Safeway, Albertsons or both to divest some stores for competitive reasons. But Safeway spokes­man Brian Dow­ling said, "We don’t expect any stores to close as a result of the transaction."

Safeway, which has a large presence in Hawaii, has 251 stores throughout the Bay Area and Northern Cali­for­nia, while Albertsons doesn’t have any in the Bay Area or Hawaii, according to the websites of the two retailers.

"Safeway is a much stronger name in Northern Cali­for­nia," said David Livingston, a Milwaukee-based retail analyst. "Safeway tends to do much better than Albertsons, which was doing poorly before this."

If any stores are closed, they are likely to be in Southern Cali­for­nia, where Safeway brand Vons operates. Albertsons has about 181 stores in that part of the state, while Vons has 279.

"Albertsons is a very important, major player in Southern Cali­for­nia, and you might see an overlap there with Vons," said Robert Reyn­olds, a Moraga-based retail analyst.

The deal will create a network of more than 2,000 stores, 27 distribution facilities and 20 manufacturing plants with more than 250,000 employees. Safeway operates 1,330 stores and Albertsons has 600-plus stores, according to the companies.

George Avalos, Contra Costa Times

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