Supervalu Inc.’s stock fell almost 10 percent Wednesday after its largest shareholder — an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management — disclosed the release of its shares.
Supervalu closed at $8.94, down 95 cents, and it was one of the biggest percentage losers on the New York Stock Exchange.
Cerberus, a large private equity outfit, engineered the purchase of 21 percent of Supervalu’s stock two years ago as part of deal that also saw Cerberus buy Supervalu’s four largest grocery chains.
Symphony Investors, a group led by Cerberus, is now “distributing” its stock in Supervalu to its members, according to a federal securities filing late Tuesday.
Symphony had to hold those Supervalu shares for two years after the Supervalu deal, and now that time is up.
Essentially, 54 million shares held by Symphony or an allied company were cut loose. Cerberus Iceberg, another Cerberus affiliate will receive 21 million of those 54 million shares, according to another securities filing. Cerberus will thus continue to own about 8 percent of Supervalu’s stock.
But with many Supervalu shares moving in the market, its stock came under selling pressure Wednesday. More than 35 million shares changed hands, more than 10 times its average daily volume of 2.9 million shares.
Supervalu’s stock had fallen another 7 percent on Tuesday after it released its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings. Eden Prairie-based Supervalu beat Wall Street’s profit forecasts, but sales growth at its Save-A-Lot chain fell short of analysts’ expectations.
Supervalu’s stock has risen from less than $4 two years ago to a high of $12 this month.