The merger deal announced Thursday between Safeway and Albertsons has sparked many questions about what would happen to the Bay Area based Safeway grocery store chain.
The merger is far from being a done deal, however Safeway has a so-called "go shop" window to solicit and accept proposals from other companies. There are also anti-trust proceedings that would need to be completed.
An Albertsons' spokeswoman told KTVU late Thursday night that if the proposed merger succeeds, it would not involve any store closures, changes to the Safeway name or changes to the Safeway rewards program.
Albertsons spokeswoman Chris Wilcox told KTVU there has been no decision yet about what to do with Safeway's corporate offices in Pleasanton. One business expert says that is most likely where layoffs could occur to eliminate duplication.
Safeway and Albertsons announced the merger Thursday afternoon in a deal reportedly worth $9 billion.
The deal would combine the second and fifth largest U.S. grocery store chains. Safeway is the second-largest in the U.S. after Kroger by revenue. Albertsons - which is controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. -- ranks fifth.
"I like the deals that I get at Safeway. You know, you come and if you're a club member, you get the coupon deals and better bang for your buck," said Fre Johnson, a Safeway shopper who spoke with KTVU outside the Oakland store.
Johnson and other Safeway shoppers worry the merger might impact Safeway stores' quality, costs, and customer service.
Safeway operates 1,335 stores in 20 states. That would greatly add to Albertson's 1,075 stores in 29 states.
Albertsons' statement Thursday said the merger would result in a wider range of items, lower prices, better fresh products, and store renovations.
"This transaction offers us the opportunity to better serve customers by adapting more quickly to evolving shopping preferences in diverse regions across the country," said Albertsons' Chief Executive Officer Bob Miller in a prepared statement. "Working together will enable us to create cost savings that translate into price reductions for our customers."
The Safeway-owned store brands include Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs stores.
Albertsons' brands include Albertsons', ACME, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw's, Star Market, Super Saver, United Supermarkets, Market Street and Amigos.
A union official with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 5 says it represents workers at Safeway stores. The union previously represented workers at Albertsons' stores and say those workers suffered when Cerberus bought the Albertsons chain in 2006.
"It was detrimental to our membership in terms of layoffs and hour reductions and loss of health and welfare and pensions and so forth and we don't want it repeated at Safeway," said Mike Henneberry, a spokesman for UFCW Local 5.
Albertsons officials said they plan to fund the merger in part with debt financing of approximately $7.6 billion, equity contributions from its current investors and their affiliates, partners and co-investors of approximately $1.25 billion, and cash on hand of Safeway.
"They're facing a lot of pressure from some atypical competitors, Target, Walmart, these are broad retailers who weren't always in the grocery business but now are," said Jennifer Chatman, a UC Haas Business School Professor who specializes in organizational behavior.
Chatman says merging the two former competitors into one grocery chain will be a challenge. She says she would advise the companies to draw attention to their shared history, which could help smooth the transition.
"Both chains were founded in Idaho," Chatman told KTVU," Joe Albertson actually worked for Safeway for 10 years from 1929-1939 before he became an entrepreneur opened his own grocery in Idaho."
Longtime customers say they hope for the best.
"Hopefully Safeway can just upgrade it and be a little more organic and a little more refined, without the prices going up," said Tom Paratore of Oakland.
Albertsons' CEO Bob Miller would become executive chairman of the new combined company. Robert Edwards, Safeway's current President and Chief Executive Officer, would become President and Chief Executive Officer.
The companies said "the merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014 following the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including approval of the Merger by the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of Safeway common stock and regulatory approvals."
The statement states that Safeway has a "go-shop" period of 21 days to work with its financial advisor Goldman Sachs to "actively solicit, receive, evaluate and potentially enter into negotiations with parties that offer alternative proposals." There will be a 15 day period following those three weeks when Safeway will be able to select a different proposal. Any competing bidder would have to pay termination fees of up to $250 million dollars.
There are growing concerns over what critics say is the lack of regulation over the ridesharing industry.
The CPUC short for California Public Utilities Commission oversees the industry and under new rules it issued six months ago, the agency granted its first operating permit to a relatively unknown company.
Summon, formerly InstantCab, is based in San Francisco,
The founder tells told KTVU that he got this permit, only after complying with all 28 guidelines.
Summon has been operating for a year.
But the CEO tells KTVU they’re already in five Bay Area cities: San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and Redwood City.
Customers, using the Summon app have the option to order a cab or private car or whichever's closer.
Summon's key selling point is that customers will know how much the ride will cost ahead of time.
"When demand goes up our prices don't go up. We have flat pricing. Pricing doesn't even change with traffic," said Aarjav Trivedi, CEO and founder of Summon. .
Trivedi said he applied for an operating permit as soon as the CPUC came up with its requirements in September.
They include checking drivers' criminal history and safety record. Ensuring that both the company and the driver have insurance and making sure all vehicles undergo safety inspections.
"Paying attention to what the intention was behind the law, not just the letter of the law was - was the key behind getting the permit quickly," said Trivedi.
The CPUC tells KTVU it has agreements with other companies to operate while their applications are pending.
The CPUC says it sent out letters on Thursday to Lyft, Sidecar and Wingz and on Friday, one will be sent to Uber. The letters inform the companies know that they have 60 calendar days to meet all requirements. And a failure to comply means they will be denied a permit to operate.
At San Francisco City Hall Thursday afternoon, there was a hearing to address safety concerns as the ridesharing industry booms.
Supervisor Eric Mar tells KTVU he called for this hearing following the death of 6-year-old Sophia Liu.
Her family filed a lawsuit against Uber after a driver struck and killed the girl on New Year's Eve.
"The mother is still suffering from the effects of the injuries both physically and mentally from brain injuries and the whole family is devastated emotionally," said Christopher Dolan, the Liu family attorney.
Sophia's parents told KTVU they don't want another family to go thru what they're experiencing.
Supervisor Mar says he's working with the city attorney to see how to better regulate the ridesharing industry.
He may be 102 years old, but Dr. Ephraim Engleman is still hard at work at UCSF as director of the Rosalind Russell Medical Research Center for Arthritis and occasionally seeing patients.
Engleman is a Bay Area local and is the last surviving member of the Stanford class of 1933. Before becoming a doctor, he was a violinist and music prodigy since the age of 6.
His first job was working in a theater in San Jose called the Fox California Theatre. He started there right after graduating high school at San Jose High School in 1927. He performed during silent movies in an orchestra pit. Sensing his days were numbered at that job since sound was being incorporated to films, he decided to become a doctor.
Dr. Engleman hasn’t lost his musical roots though since he still continues to play the violin regularly, hosting chamber music meetings at his home every Monday night.
He lives in San Mateo with his wife, Jean, who is 97. They have three children, whose achievements are as impressive as his, and six grandchildren.
“Oh you bet I’ll stick around here as long as the University will have me or as long as the good lord supports me and as long as I have it up here” Engleman said as he pointed to his head. “I have told my friends here and elsewhere that if they suspect that I’m losing it up here, I’ll get the hell out of here.”
Always asked about his secrets for longevity, Dr. Engleman recently published his book titled My Century which includes his quirky ’10 tips on longevity’. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Rosalind Russell-Ephraim P. Engleman Medical Research Center for Arthritis at UCSF.
Finally, we asked Dr. Engleman about retirement, and he swiftly answered: “I’m very opposed to retirement. I think the worst thing you can do is to retire because that guarantees no longevity. I think one should continue working as long as physically possible…keep busy, keep active!”
In a scene played out over and over again, returning National Guardsmen and women got a hero's welcome home Thursday.
150 members of the 1113th Transportation Company have been gone for a year. Their tours of duty in Afghanistan included prepping US bases for the military withdrawal. They are the men and women who drive things from point A to point B in hostile environments. The airport homecomings were friendly territory.
Each returning flight was greeted by the Patriot Guard Riders, standing in a row, carrying flags.
"We want them to know that there's a grateful nation waiting for them to come home safely," said the chapter leader, Craig Morgan.
Each time a Guard member came off the flight, they were greeted by the Riders, "Present arms. Welcome home!" and cheers from waiting family and friends.
"It's wonderful and I love it. Can't wait to spend time with them. Missed them all," returning guardsman, Jeremy Hughes said holding his newborn niece, who clutched a sign that read, "I'm here to pick up Jeremy Hughes. I'm Aayliah your niece. Nice to meet you."
The last time Staff Sergeant Ricardo Salinas saw his son, Sampson, was the week he was born. He's 9-months-old now.
Salinas wiped away tears as he held the child, "Oh, wow! He's a whole different person. He was like, half the size he is now last time I saw him."
Bingo halls have become a recent target for robbers and that has some calling for a controversial idea to keep players safe.
A 78-year-old woman was pistol whipped for her winnings after she walked out of the Aqua Maids Bingo Hall on February 19th.
On Wednesday two armed robbers, posed as players at Aqua Maids before grabbing wads of cash before a payout.
Santa Clara police have arrested four people in connection with those robberies. The two young men who posed as the players and two other accomplices, all four are believed to be involved in the February pistol whipping incident.
Lt. Kurt Clark told KTVU Santa Clara investigators believe the robbery ring could be implicated in other crimes, including the recent armed robberies at Santa Clara University.
"The MO and (suspect) descriptions are similar and that's what we're looking at," said Clark.
But the arrests are not enough to quell safety concerns in the bingo community. Ron Fay, a regular at multiple bingo halls, tells KTVU the targeted attacks have him worried.
“There's so much money involved. They should have, for our protection as Bingo players, they should have armed security," said Fay.
Aqua Maids has multiple security cameras and an unarmed guard. Fay believes having an armed guard on site might deter these kinds of incidents but not everyone agrees.
Robbie Roberts manages a different bingo hall in Santa Clara. He tells KTVU he opposed armed guards because guns can only make a bad situation worse. He would rather lose money than lives.
"These guys that do these robbings, they're punks,” explained Roberts.