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Harris Teeter shareholders agree to Kroger merger

Harris Teeter shareholders voted Thursday to approve the merger with Kroger.

The $2.5 billion deal, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Harris Teeter board, will allow Kroger to buy the smaller Harris Teeter chain. Hampton Roads is only one of four areas where the two store banners overlap.

It has been unclear to date how Harris Teeter stores will change under Kroger Co. ownership.

The deal was announced in July with a statement from the company. “We look forward to bringing together the best of Kroger and Harris Teeter while continuing to operate and grow the Harris Teeter brands,” David Dillon, Kroger's chairman and CEO, said at the time.

The deal would be the fourth-largest supermarket acquisition in the past 10 years, according to Bloomberg. It is Kroger's biggest takeover since it bought Fred Meyer in 1998 for $12 billion.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Harris Teeter shareholders will receive $49.38 per share. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year, according to the company.

Kroger operates seven stores in the region, including one in York County in the Kiln Creek area. A new Kroger Marketplace, designed to offer home goods and groceries, recently opened in Virginia Beach. A second marketplace is under construction in Suffolk. And spokesmen for Kroger have said that the company plans to dramatically extend its reach in the Hampton Roads region.

The Kroger Co. operates about two dozen banners and has 2,419 stores in 31 states. The addition of Harris Teeter will add a Kroger presence to Maryland, Delaware and Florida.

There are 13 Harris Teeter stores in Hampton Roads, with locations in Williamsburg, Newport News and Suffolk. The grocery chain currently has 212 stores in eight states and in Washington, D.C.

Kroger plans to finance the deal with debt, as well as assume about $100 million in debt from Harris Teeter, according to a written company statement.

Harris Teeter brought in about $4.5 billion in revenue in the 2012 fiscal year. Kroger reported $96 billion.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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