The stock of embattled Safeway Stores jumped $3.87 1/2 to $51.50 a share on heavy volume Wednesday amid rumors that Dart Group is preparing to bid about $60 a share in cash and securities for the supermarket chain.
Citing unidentified sources, the Dow Jones News Service reported that Dart Group, which is controlled by the Haft family of Washington, had retained the investment banking firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert to prepare an offer. Neither Dart nor Drexel Burnham could be reached for comment.
"We have no comment on any question regarding rumors," said Harry D. Sunderland, Safeway's executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Dart Group reported earlier this month that it held a 5.9% stake in Safeway and might seek control of the company. Safeway responded with a federal court suit seeking to block further purchases and charging the Hafts with violating federal securities laws.
Rumors of an impending offer were also fanned by a Dow Jones report that a 500,000-share block of Safeway was handled Wednesday by the brokerage firm Jefferies & Co. Jefferies is believed to have purchased shares on behalf of Dart Group last month.