Stop & Shop, Ahold Delhaize's biggest chain in the United States, has cancelled the acquisition of King Kullen, often named America's oldest supermarket chain. This is largely due to the coronavirus crisis.
In a mutual statement, both companies say the acquisition is off because of "significant, unforeseen changes in the marketplace that have emerged since the agreement was signed in December 2018, largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic".
When the deal was announced in January 2019, Stop&Shop was meant to take over 32 supermarkets under the banner of King Kullen, along with five Wild by Nature store and the offices in Bethpage, New York. The deal was expected to be completed within three months, but it became a long ordeal for the companies involved. The Federal Trade Commission was afraid the deal would make too powerful a bloc and demanded Stop & Shop sold some of the 32 stores.
Nevertheless, this week's move comes as a surprise: just last month, Ahold Delhaize said it expected to complete the deal in the next few months. The coronavirus outbreak apparently was a gamechanger: with the subsequent run on supermarket supplies, these retailers became a lot more valuable.