BOISE, Idaho - An investment group including Cerberus Capital, Kimco Realty Corp. and Minnesota-based supermarket chain Supervalu is near a deal to buy Albertsons Inc., the second-largest U.S. supermarket chain, for about $9.6 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The deal, which the newspaper said was valued at $26 per share, would put an end to a three-month auction for Boise-based Albertsons, which has suffered from lagging results, a stagnant share price and competition from lower-cost rivals including Wal-Mart.
Albertsons’ shares rose 34 cents to close at $24.33 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Journal, which cited unidentified people familiar with the matter for its report, also said Albertsons is continuing separate talks to sell its pharmacy business to CVS Corp., for as much as $4 billion of the overall purchase price.
‘‘Beyond the Sept. 2 announcement, I have no comment,’’ said Shannon Bennett, an Albertsons spokeswoman. The company put itself up for sale on that date. She also refused to confirm the newspaper’s report that its board planned to meet this weekend.
The Journal said the transaction could be announced after the board meeting.
The Cerberus group would assume $6.4 billion in Albertsons debt as part of the deal. Albertsons trails only The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, among supermarket-only operators,
Effects on Valley
Supermarkets: The announcement leaves 45 Valley supermarkets, 27 of them in the East Valley, with an uncertain future.
Drugstores: Even more stand-alone Osco drugstores, 32 East Valley versions, in limbo. Albertsons moved its pharmacy headquarters to Scottsdale in 1999. Also worrisome is what will happen to that operation if the chain is gobbled up by a rival brand.