Despite signs Friday that a deal appeared imminent, Market Basket’s board of directors still had not reached an agreement to sell the company by Monday night.
The delay stems from lingering differences of opinion among the board members on terms of a possible sale to former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, according to the Boston Globe.
On Thursday, Demoulas issued a statement saying he had submitted his final offer to the board, and he urged it to finalize the sale agreement immediately.
“The bid remains at full price and its terms are extremely favorable to the sellers,” he said. “There is nothing that stands in the way of getting this done this weekend.”
Sources told the Globe that Demoulas offered to buy the 50.5 percent of Market Basket he and his immediate family do not already own for $1.5 billion. Demoulas said he would use a $500 million loan from an unnamed private equity firm as well as family assets to buy the company shares.
It was unclear Friday whether the board would meet over the weekend to discuss his final offer to purchase Demoulas Super Markets Inc., which owns 71 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. The governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts had intervened to try to foster a resolution, and issued statements Friday voicing optimism that a deal would be completed and predicting that the stores would be restocked and resume normal operations by early this week.
On Sunday, a group of board members issued a statement saying they planned to meet that night to discuss the offer. Employees were hopeful that a sale to Demoulas would be finalized, and that thousands of furloughed workers would be placed back on the schedule.
But the board later announced that the meeting had been canceled without saying why.
According to the Globe, the meeting was called off because the board members still could not agree on terms of the purchase agreement.
The board did not say Monday whether it has rescheduled the meeting. Analysts have said that it must act quickly to resolve the leadership dispute that prompted about 200 distribution and administrative workers to walk out on their jobs in mid-July. The walkout, a reaction to the board’s ouster of Demoulas, has left many store shelves empty. Thousands of workers have staged protests and asked customers to boycott Market Basket stores until Demoulas regains control of the company.
As a result of the successful boycott, Market Basket is losing millions in revenue each day, according to the analysts. Thousands of part-time workers have been taken off the schedule indefinitely, including about 270 at the company’s only Maine store, in Biddeford.
Biddeford Market Basket Store Director Micum McIntire said he has been keeping in touch with furloughed employees in anticipation of putting them back to work once a sale agreement is reached.
Demoulas is a hero to many employees. Stories of his generosity, sincerity and compassion abound within the company. But his rivals on the board, led by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, have said in court documents that he abused his authority as CEO to pursue a rapid-expansion strategy that the majority of board members did not support.
The internal dispute at Market Basket goes back decades but came to a head in 2013, when the Demoulas cousins clashed over the company’s future business strategy. Arthur T. wanted to use its cash reserves to open more stores, while Arthur S. insisted that the money be paid out in dividends to the family-owned company’s shareholders.
The dispute ended up in court, where Arthur S. won a judgment to distribute $300 million to the shareholders.