Food wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc. seems to be having buyer’s remorse regarding a $2.9 billion deal made last July to acquire Eden Prairie-based food wholesaler and Cub Foods owner Supervalu. But the problem isn’t over Supervalu; it instead involves the companies United Natural Foods (UNFI) enlisted to advise on the transaction.
Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI this week filed a lawsuit within the Supreme Court of the State of New York against global investment firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and its subsidiaries. UNFI alleges Goldman Sachs extracted millions of dollars in unjustifiable interest, fees, and other damages from UNFI and UNFI shareholders.
Bank of America, N.A. and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated were also named in the suit. Similar but separate claims were also filed against Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank for an alleged collusive role in the offenses.
“We expected our extremely well-paid transaction advisors to provide ethical counsel and unbiased support around this landmark acquisition—not leverage their positions to pursue larger profits for themselves and other clients at our expense and ongoing damage,” said Steve Spinner, UNFI's CEO and chairman, in a statement.
UNFI’s complaint alleges four counts of contact:
“Rather than respect its contractual obligations and the law, we believe Goldman Sachs played by its own set of rules both when dealing with us and CDS market participants, for its own benefit,” said Jill Sutton, UNFI’s chief legal officer and general counsel, in prepared remarks.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP and Coburn & Greenbaum PLLC are representing UNFI as external legal counsel as the suit moves forward.
Goldman Sachs did not comment on the allegations as of press time.