Jungle Gets New Leaders


Supermarket Jitney-Jungle had a revolving door in its executive suite last week, as two of the senior officers left in the wake of ongoing takeover speculation.

Mississippi-based Jitney-Jungle, which has about $400 million outstanding in high yield debt, watched its chief executive officer Mike Julian quit for personal reasons. At the same time, the company's chief financial officer Rick Coleman also left, according to market sources.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

But reportedly, the firm named Ronald Johnson, formerly president and chief operating officer, as the new chairman and CEO, and David Black as chief financial officer.

Jitney's name has been tossed around in the secondary market a lot lately as a takeover candidate with investors trying to find the next acquisition target, the price on Jitney's debt has bounced around somewhat. The entire sector saw a lift in trading in May on the industry-wide speculation, but then Jitney fell to the low 90s from 103 on fears of a ratings downgrade.

Late last year, there was a flurry of mergers in the industry. Kroger's $8 billion acquisition of Fred Meyer, which created the largest supermarket in the country, set the tone with an EBITDA multiple of 10.4 times and prompted investors to hunt for other acquisition possibilities.