Wall Street Journal says Albertsons looks to go public, again

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Boise-based Albertsons is the third-largest private company in the US.

But its owners hope to change that.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday the chain again sought to go public, citing unnamed sources ‘familiar with the deal.’

The paper said the company would decide in the next few weeks whether to seek an initial public offering that could value it at around $19-billion. WSJ reports an internal debate continues around whether to go public now – or wait until the outcome of further hoped-for improvements to see if it raises the company’s public value.

A coalition of owners led by Cerberus Capital Management currently controls Albertsons. The private equity firm and its allies purchased a small number of Albertsons stores in 2006. It set up Boise-based Albertsons, LLC – separate from Supervalu, Inc., which purchased the majority of the company’s stores.

[In ecommerce battle, Albertsons looks to small neighborhood warehouses; amps up ‘drive up’ service in Boise area]

Where Supervalu struggled, Albertsons, LLC surged. Seven years later, in 2013, Supervalu sold all its stores to the Cerberus-led group. It later acquired Safeway Inc. and transitioned its back-end systems to that company’s infrastructure to lessen its dependence on Supervalu.

In 2015, Albertsons said it would go public, but dropped the idea late that year after other grocery companies saw weakness on Wall St.

It later tried to acquire Rite Aid, taking the combined company public. But that deal also fell apart.

Albertsons continues to see strengthening results. Last week it reported increased earnings and same-store sales, the latest in a string of rosy reports. It also decreased its debt load – down to $8.34 billion in November, down from $10.52 billion the year before.

Albertsons maintains its primary headquarters in Boise, and employs hundreds of workers in finance, administration, marketing and other roles.

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