Jana Targets Safeway

Sep 18 2013 | 11:04am ET

Activist hedge fund Jana Partners has pushed Safeway to take a poison pill.

Jana yesterday disclosed a 6.2% stake in the California-based grocery-store chain, calling it undervalued. The hedge fund said it had spoken with Safeway management about strategic alternatives and about cutting back on its geographic reach.

In response, Safeway said it had adopted a poison-pill provision to prevent any investor from taking more than a 10% stake in the company, and that it was working with Goldman Sachs to defend against a takeover bid.

Among Jana's demands are the return of a "significant" amount of capital to investors, closing stores in regions where profit margins are lower and distributing the company's majority stake in its gift-card business to shareholders. That unit, Blackhawk Network Holdings, was spun-off earlier this year.

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