Apollo Global to Buy Fresh Market for $28.50 per Share

freshmarket
The produce department of a Fresh Market store.

NEW YORK – Private equity firm Apollo Global Management said it will acquire grocery chain The Fresh Market for $1.36 billion.

The $28.50 per share all-cash offer by the Apollo Funds represents a premium of approximately 24% over The Fresh Market’s closing share price on March 11, 2016, and a premium of approximately 53% over the February 10, 2016 closing share price, the day prior to press speculation regarding a potential transaction.

Fresh Market is based in Greensboro, NC and operates 186 stores in 27 states. The stores are known for their European open-market style focusing on fresh produce, meats, bakery and deli items.

The company had been looking for a buyout deal for the past year. The transaction was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of The Fresh Market, other than Ray Berry, Chairman and Founder of The Fresh Market, who recused himself from all Board discussions related to the review and from the Board vote approving the transaction.  Ray Berry and Brett Berry, who collectively own approximately 9.8% of The Fresh Market’s outstanding shares, have agreed not to tender shares held by them into the tender offer and will both participate and rollover the vast majority of their holdings in the transaction with Apollo. In addition, George Golleher, with whom Apollo has had a long-term operating partner consulting relationship and who was formerly Chief Executive Officer of Smart & Final and Ralphs Grocery Company/Food-4-Less during ownership by other Apollo affiliated funds, will be a co-investor with the Apollo funds in the transaction.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Apollo, which follows a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives that generated interest from numerous parties.  After an open and thorough process, our Board concluded that this offer maximizes value for our stockholders,” said Rich Noll, The Fresh Market’s Lead Independent Director.

“We are excited about this transaction with Apollo, which recognizes the value of The Fresh Market’s strong brand and significant growth prospects while providing stockholders with an immediate and substantial premium,” said Rick Anicetti, The Fresh Market’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  “Apollo is a highly-regarded investor, bringing deep industry expertise and financial resources, and we look forward to working with them to build on our progress in achieving our strategic plan to deliver long-term profitable growth.”

“We are delighted about this transaction with The Fresh Market, which was one of the early pioneers in small-box grocery, offering unique, delicious and healthy food with a keen focus on perishables,” said Andrew Jhawar, Senior Partner and Head of the Retail and Consumer Group at Apollo. “We believe there is a significant opportunity to enhance the brand, merchandise offering and price-value combination to make The Fresh Market a primary destination for food shoppers, while at the same time being committed to social responsibility through partnerships with local vendors and communities.  Our team at Apollo has had the tremendous fortune of having executed transactions in several consumables retailers and brands – such as Sprouts Farmers Market, Smart & Final, Hostess Brands and General Nutrition Centers, among others – that have undergone significant transformations under our strategic guidance and we intend to bring that experience to bear at The Fresh Market.   We look forward to partnering with Ray Berry, Brett Berry and George Golleher, and beginning our discussions with the executive management team and the over 13,000 team members at The Fresh Market so that we can assist the company in delivering the most inspiring and engaging food shopping experience in the industry with best-in-class customer service.”

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016.