NEWARK-A&P didn’t like how the bidding at auction for the 197-store Grand Union supermarket operation came down and filed papers in bankruptcy court here last week to block the sale of most of the chain’s assets to C&S Wholesale (see Archives). They lost.

The court has ruled against A&P’s motion, which charged that the bidding was rigged, and the last major hurdle to the $301.8 million sale has apparently been cleared. The sale encompasses 185 of those 197 stores, plus a distribution facility in upstate New York.

“This was the highest possible amount in the shortest possible time,” bankruptcy court Judge Novalyn Winfield ruled.

As part of its bid for Grand Union, C&S had lined up buyers for more than half of the stores it’s buying with the understanding that if the Brattleboro, VT-based wholesaler’s bid won, those retailers would operate the stores. A&P decided not to participate in that arrangement and subsequently filed the motion to block the sale.

Altogether, C&S will operate 84 of the acquired stores under the Grand Union name. The second biggest buyer to emerge from the complicated transaction is Stop & Shop, owned by Netherlands-based Royal Ahold, which is taking 45 of the stores. The rest are scattered among several major supermarket chains operating in New Jersey and the Northeast.

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