6. BI-LO Supermarkets

BI-LO Supermarkets, a regional supermarket chain in the southeast, is making aggressive industry plays after it emerged from a 2010 bankruptcy.

The Greenville, S.C.-based company founded in 1961 is owned by private equity fund Lone Star, which bought the chain and Bruno's Supermarkets in 2005. After emerging from a 13-month bankruptcy in 2010, the company is not on the acquisition hunt.

In December, the BI-LO bought Winn-Dixie Stores ( WINN) for $560 million, or $9.50 a share, a 75% premium.

With Winn Dixie, BI-LO's merged supermarket business will contain 690 stores in the southeast, which employ over 63,000 workers.

While other privately-owned supermarket chains like Food Lion have previously been reported to be interested in buying BI-LO, the company and its private owners seem to be acquirers. But that may set up for a future sale or share offering. In January, the firm filed for an IPO of its Del Frisco's investment, in an effort to raise $100 million.

Meanwhile, BI-LO is growing opportunistically in states like North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee as part of a multi-year bankruptcy plan. It's competitors include Safeway ( SWY), Supervalu ( SVU) and Kroger ( KRO), among other regional supermarket powerhouses.

Currently, the deal is one of the most ambitious acquisition attempts within the foods space in 2011. According to Bloomberg data, buying Winn Dixie was the third biggest merger in the foods space in the last twelve months. With the company, BI-LO will add 480 retail grocery locations, including approximately 380 in-store pharmacies, in gulf states like Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi.

For more on Winn Dixie, see 6 stocks that will benefit from reverse migration.

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