Saturday, January 8, 2011

Smart & Final-Henry's Tell Employees About Deal Discussions With Sprouts Farmers Market; Confirming 'The Insider's' Reports

Breaking Buzz

Henry's Farmers Market, which is owned by City of Commerce, California-based Smart & Final, on Friday (January 6, 2011) notified headquarters office workers, store managers and employees at its 46 stores in California and Texas that the company's owner, private equity firm Apollo Global Management, is in discussions regarding the sale of the Henry's chain to Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market, Fresh & Easy Buzz has learned.

Friday morning, Smart & Final's CEO, George Golleher, instructed senior executives at Henry's Farmers Market, which has its own separate headquarters in Irvine, California, to communicate to the employees that Apollo and Smart & Final are negotiating a possible sale of Henry's to Sprouts, but that a deal has not yet been completed, according to our multiple sources.

As part of the communication on Friday, the Henry's Farmers Market employees were told by the executives not to discuss the information with members of the media or anyone else but to instead refer any questions on the possible sale of the chain to Sprouts Farmers Market to Randall Oliver, Smart & Final's corporate spokesman.

Fresh & Easy Buzz's 'The Insider' columnist broke the news about a potential acquisition deal between Sprouts Farmers Market and Apollo/Smart & Final for its Henry's Farmers Market chain in a January 5, 2011 column, which you can read here: Will 2011 See Sprouts Farmers Market Acquiring Henry's Farmers Market? 'The Insider' Says it Could Be in The Cards. Also see 'The Insider's' column from yesterday for an update - January 7, 2011: Sprouts Farmers Market-Henry's Farmers Market Deal Negotiations Continue; End-Game Could Be Near.

In yesterday's column 'The Insider' noted that "selected Henry's Farmers Market" employees had been notified about the deal talks with Sprouts between January 5 and January 7. That universe of employees has now been extended to store-level managers and employees, as of Friday, January 7.

The Friday communication to Henry's store employees by Smart & Final confirms 'The Insider's' reports that deal discussions are indeed going on between Apollo/Smart & Final and Spouts Farmers Market regarding the possible acquisition of Henry's by Sprouts.

Employees of Phoenix, Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market haven't been notified by company executives about the talks with Apollo/Smart & Final, according to our sources, which isn't a surprise since it would be the company making the acquisition and thus its employees aren't in the same position the Henry's employees would be in if a deal does happen.

A number of Sprouts employees are aware of the negotiations though, evidenced by a number of e-mails we've received from them following the publication of the January 5 column by 'The Insider,' who says he's currently working on a follow-up column about the deal negotiations and possible acquisition of Henry's Farmers Market by Sprouts Farmers Market.

The negotiations between representatives of Apollo/Smart & Final and Sprouts Farmers Market are ongoing. Sources tell us they will continue next week.

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