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It was just another weekend in the continuing Market Basket saga in New England, as the two sides in the ongoing battle continued to work at cross purposes with little suggestion that they were moving toward any sort of middle ground in which compromise and resolution might be found.

When last we checked in on the Market Basket story, deposed CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was saying that he was making an offer to buy a majority of the company that he said was fair an in keeping with the chain's valuation, and the board of directors - controlled by Arthur S. Demoulas, Arthur T.'s cousin and the man who engineered his firing - promised to consider the proposal at a meeting it was having last Friday. Also scheduled for Friday was yet another mass rally of Market Basket employees, who have combined their calls for Arthur T.'s reinstatement with systematic slowdowns of shipments to the company's stores, which have left many of the units almost empty of both food and customers.

(In case you've forgotten … The longtime family feud boiled over with the move by Arthur S. Demoulas, to oust CEO Arthur T. Demoulas due to a conflict over the company’s finances. The fight is characterized differently by the two sides. The Arthur S. Demoulas faction argues that Arthur T. Demoulas spends money irresponsibly and refuses to take direction from the board. The Arthur T. Demoulas side maintains that his cousin is fueled by greed, only interested in raising prices, cutting employee compensation, and threatening the formula that has built the company to a New England success story. To be fair, though, this is a battle that goes back decades, and that is beginning to resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys.)

• On Friday, the board released a statement that said, in part: “The negative behavior of certain current and former associates is at variance with the Company’s culture of putting the needs of the Market Basket customers first. It is now clear that it is in the interests of all members of the Market Basket community for normal business operations to resume immediately.”

• Shortly thereafter, however, the current co-CEOs - Felicia Thornton and James Gooch - released a statement that seemed a little less confrontational, saying, in part: “We welcome back associates who are committed to Market Basket’s customers. There will be no penalty or discipline for any associate who joins in what will be a significant effort to return to the unparalleled level of performance and customer service that have been hallmarks of the Market Basket brand.”

This was at odds with their previous declaration that anyone not showing up for work or participating in the slowdown would be fired, as some already have been.

• The opposition, however, is not backing down. On Saturday, Market Basket protestors reiterated their terms for going back to work: “(Market Basket) associates and customers remain fully committed to our cause. (Arthur T. Demoulas) must be reinstated with full authority to CEO of (Demoulas Super Markets). This has been, and will continue to be, non-negotiable.”

• And then, injecting even more uncertainty into the situation, the Boston Globe reports that there are other suitors interested in acquiring Market Basket, including private equity groups and perhaps other chains, with the Market Basket board hiring investment bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. to help evaluate offers that range between $2.8 billion and $3.3 billion.
KC's View:
Forgive me, and I could certainly be wrong about this, but it just seems so unlikely that the current board and Arthur S. would ever sell the company to Arthur T., especially if there are other offers on the table. I think they might take the money from a private equity group and run, and let rebuilding Market Basket be some other guy's problem … especially since, from all reports, taking money out of the business seems to have been the priority all along.

Now, it seems equally hard to imagine why anyone else would want to take on the Market Basket headaches, unless the goal would be to bring Arthur T. back into the fold.

I'll repeat what I said last week. This thing may be, to use a military expression, FUBAR.