NEWARK-Just when it seemed that the bankrupt Grand Union supermarket chain had found a buyer, one of the bidders at the recent auction has asked the bankruptcy court here to throw out the sale and reopen the process. Montvale, NJ-based A&P, which itself put in a bid for part of the Grand Union operation, is charging that Brattleboro, VT-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, slated to buy Grand Union for $301.8 million, rigged the recent auction.

In papers filed with the court, A&P says C&S illegally got other supermarket chain to pass on the auction. A&P is also charging that Grand Union and its creditors secretly negotiated the price with C&S before the November 18 auction. A&P contends that C&S forged a plan to buy the stores, then resell them to “supermarket chains which are or would agree to be C&S [wholesale] customers….[the auction was] a blatant violation of the Bankruptcy Code and the antitrust laws.”

A&P says it offered $70 million for a dozen Grand Union stores but refused to go along with the auction plan. A&P’s request to void the auction is expected to be considered at a hearing November 30 in Newark.

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