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LEWISVILLE, TX-Fleming Cos. Inc., working through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has snagged a definitive asset purchase agreement from Brattleboro, VT-headquartered C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. for a $400-million buyout of the wholesale grocery business.

Fleming, based near Dallas, did not return telephone calls by publication time for comment on the extent of the real estate holdings involved in the “one price takes all” agreement that will go before the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware for a blessing on the deal. A July 17 hearing will be held in the Delaware court on the sale.

Other would-be buyers have until July 28 to submit proposals for all or part of the business, with an auction set for July 31. A final sale hearing has been penciled on the court docket for Aug. 4, with expectations that the transaction will close shortly thereafter.

The signing of the agreement solidifies a June 27 announcement that C&S was poised with the capital and the plan to acquire the wholesale grocery operation. “We are pleased to have begun operating under the recently signed supply arrangement with C&S and to have executed the asset purchase agreement. We view these as significant steps in delivering on our commitment,” Pete Willmott, Fleming’s interim president and CEO, said in yesterday’s press release.

C&S is a privately owned grocery wholesale company with annual sales in excess of $11 billion. The supplier, founded in 1918, has a store network of more than 2,200 locations in the Northeast.

The sale does not include the Core-mark convenience business nor is the separate entity affected by the wholesale grocery sale, according to Fleming, which filed bankruptcy April 1.

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