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June 9 (Reuters) - Grocery chain Albertson's LLC, which was once one of the top supermarket operators in the United States, agreed to sell 49 of its Florida stores to rival Publix Super Markets.
Food-and-drug retailer Albertson's, which operates about 300 stores, once boasted a stable of 2,500 stores spread across the United States.
In 2006, facing stiff competition, the company sold itself to a group that included rival Supervalu Inc (SVU.N), drugstore chain CVS Caremark (CVS.N), investment firm Cerberus Capital Management and Kimco Realty for about $9.7 billion. Supervalu and CVS scooped up the company's best supermarket and drugstore assets.
Following the sale of the Florida stores to privately held supermarket chain Publix, Albertson's plans to operate its remaining stores in the state with help from its distribution center in Plant City and division office in Lake Mary.
Idaho-based Albertson's, which operates under its namesake banner, expects to complete the sale in September.
In addition to Florida, privately held Albertson's operates in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas.
In a separate release, Florida-based Publix encouraged Albertson's employees, affected by the deal, to apply for employment.
Publix, which had 2007 sales of $23 billion, currently has 936 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Pratish Narayanan)