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Safeway Climbs on Speculation of Metro Bid: San Francisco Mover

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Safeway Inc., the second-largest U.S. grocery-store chain, advanced the most in more than 15 months after Desjardins Securities Inc. said Metro Inc. may bid for its Canadian stores.

Safeway climbed 5.4 percent to $19.85 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since Oct. 4, 2011. The shares sank 14 percent last year, compared with a 7.5 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s Consumer Staples Index.

Metro, Canada’s third-largest supermarket chain, may seek grocery and pharmacy acquisitions after selling almost half of its stake in Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. for C$479 million ($479.6 million), Keith Howlett, an analyst at Desjardins Securities in Montreal, said in a note today. Safeway Canada is a possible target along with the Overwaitea, Familiprix and Jean Coutu chains, he said.

Acquiring Safeway Canada, a unit of the $4.75 billion publicly traded company based in Pleasanton, California, would give Metro more than 200 stores that generated $6.7 billion of revenue in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Teena Massingill, a spokeswoman for Safeway, didn’t immediately reply to a telephone call or an e-mail seeking comment. Marie-Claude Bacon, a spokeswoman for Montreal-based Metro, declined to comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Burritt in Greensboro at cburritt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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