Sobeys Inc. has agreed to sell 23 supermarkets in Western Canada to get the green light from the federal Competition Bureau for its $5.8-billion takeover of Safeway Canada.
The stores to be divested, in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are mostly Safeway supermarkets and some Sobeys stores, along with outlets operating under the Thrifty, Price Chopper and IGA banners.
"I am confident this agreement will ensure that Canadian consumers continue to benefit from competitive prices for a wide selection of grocery products," said John Pecman, Commissioner of Competition.
Rival grocers, including Loblaw Cos. Ltd. and Overwaitea Food Group, owned by Jim Pattison, are expected to mull picking up some of the 23 stores that Sobeys will sell.
In June, Empire Co. Ltd. of Stellarton, N.S., which owns Sobeys, unveiled its surprise $5.8-billion Safeway Canada deal. Less than a month later, Loblaw announced it was buying Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. for $12.4-billion.
After the deal is closed, Sobeys will have more than 1,538 locations and about $24-billion in annual revenue, compared with Loblaw's 1,058 stores and $32-billion in revenue.