Dart Group Corp. yesterday reiterated its determination to buy Safeway Stores Inc., the world's largest supermarket chain.
In a letter to Safeway's board, Dart Chairman Herbert H. Haft said, "We are committed to acquiring all of Safeway."
Haft added that Dart officials are "prepared to meet with you at any time to negotiate any and all aspects of our offer."
On July 9, Dart, based in Landover, announced it would seek to buy all of Safeway's 61.1 million shares at $58 a share -- an acquisition that would cost $3.7 billion. Dart earlier had announced it had acquired a 5.9 percent stake in Safeway.
Safeway, which earlier had vowed to fight any takeover bid from the Hafts, has yet to comment on the $58-a-share proposal. However, sources close to the company say the supermarket chain is exploring options to thwart a takeover.
Sources say Safeway has been looking for another company to buy the chain, among its other options. Additionally, Safeway management is said to be exploring a leveraged buyout, in which the company's management would buy back the public shares of the company, financing it through the chain's cash flow and assets.
Safeway has promised a recommendation by Tuesday, and said yesterday it would have no comment on Dart's letter before then.
However, Dart cautioned Safeway to "not take any extraordinary actions before meeting with us."
Since Dart made its offer, Safeway's stock has climbed to a high of $58, only to drop during several trading sessions to close at $52.68 on Tuesday. Part of the drop was precipitated by rumors that Safeway was trying to get rid of Dart by buying back the company's stake in Safeway.
Wall Street officials speculated that Dart, alarmed by the drop in stock as a sign that the company isn't serious in its bid, issued the letter to reaffirm its intentions. Safeway's stock closed yesterday at $54.25