Delhaize America Inc. is about to become the fifth largest supermarket operator in the nation on the strength of a $3.6 billion, 38-store acquistion from Hannaford Bros. Co., operator of about 150 stores in New England and New York.

Hannaford is selling the stores in North Carolina and Virginia to settle antitrust concerns. Salisbury-based Delhaize is paying Hannaford $79 a share, cash and stock.

Hannaford shareholders are expected to receive about $2.7 million in cash and about $650 million in Food Lion class A common stock. Delhaize America is also assuming about $300 million in Hannaford debt. Delhaize owns the Food Lion, Kash ‘n Karry and Save ‘n Pack chains.

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