Arthur T. Demoulas, ousted in a family feud as head of Market Basket, offered to buy full ownership of the U.S. supermarket chain for about $1.5 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.
An announcement of the deal may come tomorrow or the day after, said the person, who asked not to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations. The offer values Tewksbury, Massachusetts-based Market Basket at about $3 billion.
Demoulas’s firing as chief executive officer in June by a board led by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, who controls 50.5 percent of the company, resulted in revolts by workers and customers that have left empty shelves at the chain’s 71 stores. The show of support for a fallen CEO is unprecedented in modern American history, according to Thomas Kochan, a management professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“All parties report that they are optimistic that an agreement will be reached to sell the company to Arthur T. Demoulas and to restore him to operating authority on an interim basis until the sale closes,” Governors Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, both Democrats, said late yesterday in a statement.
The job actions have caused work stoppages throughout New England, causing losses of more than $10 million a day, according to industry analysts. Supermarket News, a trade publication, ranks the company as the 34th-largest U.S. grocery retailer, with $4.3 billion in annual sales and stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
Two weeks ago, Patrick admonished the board to come up with a solution, saying the disruption had “gotten out of hand.”
“We are hopeful that employees will return to work, and the stores will reopen, early next week,” the governors said in yesterday’s statement.
Founded by Greek immigrants in 1917 as a single food store in Lowell, Massachusetts, the company has weathered decades of family squabbling for control of the chain.
Arthur T. Demoulas would be buying the controlling stake in Market Basket from a branch of the family led by Arthur S., who controls the seven-member board. Arthur T.’s side owns 49.5 percent. His offer includes $500 million in financing from an unidentified private equity group, the Boston Globe reported.
Spokesmen for Market Basket and both sides of the Demoulas family declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment.