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CARTERET, NJ-The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) is buying grocery chain Pathmark for $1.3 billion, adding 141 stores to its portfolio. The deal will create a combined outfit with about 550 stores, mainly in the Northeast.

A&P, which operates chains under the names A&P, Waldbaum’s, the Food Emporium and others, will retain the Pathmark name. Executives plan to invest in the renovation of existing stores and open new units. The integration of the two companies is expected to take six months after the deal closes.

The purchase allows Montvale, NJ-based A&P to “control our destiny in the inevitable Northeastern consolidation,” said Christian Haub, A&P’s executive chairman, during a conference detailing the purchase. That consolidation has included the 2004 acquisition of the Shaw’s chain by Albertsons for nearly $2.5 billion.

The deal will give A&P a stronger urban presence, Haub says. The company does not plan to close any stores as a result of the deal. “We don’t see any reason to eliminate stores,” Haub says.

Pathmark shareholders will receive $9 in cash and 0.12963 shares of A&P per share. Pathmark’s shares closed on Friday at $11.25, while A&P’s came in at $30.86. The integration costs of the deal are expected to come in at $115 million. The combined company will be based in Montvale.

During Pathmark’s latest reported quarter, which ended Oct. 28, same-store sales came in flat year over year. The grocer reported a net loss of $5.8 million, while total sales dropped 0.3%, to $978.1 million. A&P also had tough sales in its latest quarter, which ended Dec. 2, when same-store sales fell 3%. However, the retailer earned $41 million.

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