Winn Dixie sold to Bi-Lo

The Winn-Dixie supermarket chain is being sold in a deal valued at $560 million to Bi-Lo LLC.

The deal creates a huge grocery operator in the South. Shares of Winn-Dixie, which has more than twice the number of stores of its buyer, jumped about 70 percent in early trading.

The company had struggled in the past, entering into bankruptcy protection in 2005, but has been revamping operations in recent years.

The combined company will have about 690 stores and 63,000 workers in eight states. Winn-Dixie will become a privately held subsidiary and its ticker will be removed from the Nasdaq. Bi-Lo is private.

Each Winn-Dixie stockholder gets $9.50 per share in cash, a 75 percent premium to the Jacksonville, Fla. company's Friday closing stock price. At that price, the deal would be valued at slightly more than $530 million.

Bi-Lo, based in Greenville, S.C., runs 207 supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Winn-Dixie has about 480 grocery stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. It has about 46,000 employees.

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