Nash Finch buyer's headquarters plan undecided

  • Article by: MIKE HUGHLETT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 13, 2013 - 10:51 AM

Combined company will weigh Edina against acquirer Spartan Stores’ home in Grand Rapids, Mich.

With the acquisition of Nash Finch by a Michigan-based rival about to close, a top executive of the Edina company said that it’s not yet clear where the combined company will be based long-term.

Nash Finch, one of the nation’s larger grocery wholesalers, also reported solid sales growth for its third quarter, despite the U.S. government shutdown, which dealt a blow to its military business.

Nash Finch announced in July it was being acquired by Grand Rapids-based rival Spartan Stores for $1.3 billion. The companies’ shareholders are scheduled to vote on the sale Monday, and if it passes — which is likely — the deal will close soon thereafter.

The new company will be headed by Spartan CEO Dennis Eidson. Immediately after the closing, it will be based in Grand Rapids, Nash Finch Chief Financial Officer Robert Dimond said in an interview with the Star Tribune.

But the headquarters’ long-term site is still being assessed, he said. “I think that will be determined a little later over time.”

The top executive ranks of the new company appear to be more weighted with Spartan representatives. Last month, Nash Finch said Dimond and two other top executives will lose their jobs after the buyout.

Still, the companies have said the merged firm will have a strong presence in both the Twin Cities and Grand Rapids.

Dimon reiterated that Tuesday, saying the “majority” of the 500 employees at Nash Finch’s Edina office will remain, though he couldn’t be more specific.

Nash Finch reported adjusted net earnings of $8.7 million, or 66 cents per diluted share, compared with $18 million or $1.38 per share during the same time a year ago. Adjusted earnings for 2012’s third quarter included the reversal of certain accounting accruals that pumped up last year’s income vis-à-vis this year’s.

Nash Finch’s revenue was $1.56 billion, up 3.5 percent, lifted by a healthy increase in its traditional grocery wholesale business. But sales in the company’s military division were down 6.5 percent due to the government shutdown.

Without lost revenues from the shutdown, the military commissary business would have had “positive gains” in sales, Nash Finch CEO Alec Covington told stock analysts in a conference call. Nash Finch’s stock closed Tuesday at $27.52, down 8 cents.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

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