Buyout deal caps feud over Market Basket supermarket chain

BOSTON Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:45am EDT

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BOSTON Aug 28 (Reuters) - A family feud and employee revolt that tipped New England supermarket chain Market Basket into chaos ended late Wednesday with a deal to sell the company to its ousted CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, according to a statement announcing the deal.

"He and his management team will return to Market Basket during the interim period while the transaction to purchase the company is completed," the statement said, without detailing the value of the deal. The statement was provided by a spokesman for Arthur T. Demoulas.

Demoulas had been fired by the board of directors in June after a power struggle with his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, triggering a rare revolt by employees who hailed his worker-friendly policies.

As a solution, Arthur T. proposed in July to buy the 55 percent of the company he did not already control. The Boston Globe placed the value of the deal at $1.5 billion.

Market Basket, based in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, is one of New England's leading privately-held supermarkets with some $3.55 billion in revenue from its more than 70 stores around the region. It competes with New England chains like Hannaford Brothers, Shaw's, and Stop & Shop.

The Demoulas family founded Market Basket in 1962.

But the Demoulas family feud put the company's operations in disarray. Work stoppages and a boycott call by angry employees - who say Arthur T. provided good wages and benefits - led to empty shelves in some stores.

The family feud began decades ago over allegations by Arthur S.' side of the family that Arthur T.'s father had stolen ownership shares by setting up shell companies. A judge sided with Arthur S.'s family in 1994, giving it a 51 percent share.

Despite family tensions, Arthur T. became head of the company in 2008. The board shifted in Arthur S.'s favor in 2013, however, after two members were replaced.

The statement said all previous employees fired during the transition "are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the company back to normal operations."

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