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Investment Firm Buys Fresh Market Grocer For $1.36 Billion

Apollo Global Management says it's buying specialty grocery store chain Fresh Market Inc. for $1.36 billion in a deal that adds a premium of more than 20 percent to Fresh Market's closing stock price last week.

Based in Greensboro, N.C., the Fresh Market company was founded by Ray Berry; he and his son Brett together own nearly 10 percent of the company.

From a statement by Apollo Global Management:

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

According to Apollo, Fresh Market has more than 13,000 employees and operates 186 stores in 27 states, with its strongest presence in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions.

Fresh Market carried out an IPO in November of 2010; after a secondary stock offering in 2012, several of the company's leaders and members of Berry's family sold shares that collectively were worth more than $560 million.

In October, Fresh Market announced that it was reviewing its options and strategies for coping with a tight market and slumping sales. Earlier this year, news emerged that the Kroger Co. was interested in acquiring the smaller chain.

Apollo says it expects the purchase to close in the second quarter of 2016.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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