According toBloomberg, Albertsons Cos., a grocery-chain operator, held preliminary merger talks with Sprouts Farmers Market Inc.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reports the potential deal, which is at an early stage and may not actually lead to a deal, would involve taking Sprouts private and add the Phoenix,AZ-based business to Albertsons Cos., which is backed by Cerberus Capital Management, portfolio of grocery stores and brands.

Today, in a note to clients, Christopher Mandeville, an analyst for the research firm Jefferies Group, estimated that Sprouts could be acquired for $26 per share in the deal. However, due to the potential of a sale, multiple buyers may arise which could potentially lead to a bidding process that could push the estimate higher.

Currently shares in Sprouts climbed to 23 percent last week and are at $21.99, which values the company around $3 billion.

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 3/20/17