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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Governors’ latest word on Market Basket standoff: Light at end of tunnel

What appears to be the strongest indicator yet that the Market Basket standoff is nearing a solution that will favor deposed CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and his army of supporters came in a Friday afternoon joint statement issued by the governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced around 6 p.m. Friday that “all parties” in the power struggle between Demoulas and his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, which erupted after Arthur S. supporters fired Arthur T. in June, are expressing optimism that Arthur T. will soon be reinstated in a deal that also approves his proposal to buy the company. ...

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What appears to be the strongest indicator yet that the Market Basket standoff is nearing a solution that will favor deposed CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and his army of supporters came in a Friday afternoon joint statement issued by the governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced around 6 p.m. Friday that “all parties” in the power struggle between Demoulas and his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, which erupted after Arthur S. supporters fired Arthur T. in June, are expressing optimism that Arthur T. will soon be reinstated in a deal that also approves his proposal to buy the company.

The statement indicates that an agreement in principle was reached, but won’t become official until it is put into writing, which is expected to happen Sunday.

“In briefings today, all parties report that they are optimistic that an agreement will be reached to sell the company to Arthur T. Demoulas and to restore him to operating authority on an interim basis until the sale closes,” the Hassan-Patrick statement reads in part.

As part of the tentative deal, the company’s board of directors agrees to “forestall” taking “adverse employment action” against Market Basket employees who walked off the job during the dispute.

That condition is subject to the terms of the written agreement, but there is no indication that any of the points tentatively agreed upon will change significantly in the process of drafting a written agreement.

Meanwhile, Arthur T. Demoulas weighed in later Friday evening on the matter, saying through a spokeswoman that after reviewing the governors’ joint statement, he sees nothing “standing in the way of getting this done this weekend.”

Demoulas, who said he submitted his final bid on Thursday, added that he expects “this purchase can and should be finalized immediately,” said the spokeswoman, Justine Griffin.

“The bid remains at full price, and its terms are extremely favorable to the sellers,” Demoulas said.

The governors, who began meeting on the matter shortly after employees organized large protests and started picketing at most of the chain’s 72 stores, stepped up their efforts in the last several days to see a deal through that would end the standoff.

A Patrick spokeswoman said early this week that “real progress” was being made at the negotiating table and that “a resolution may be within reach.”

Hassan and Patrick said Friday they are “hopeful” employees will return to work when the agreement becomes official, which would allow stores to reopen as early as next week.

“It’s time to complete this deal so we can all get back to doing what we love doing, and that is running Market Basket,” Demoulas in his statement.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashua
telegraph.com.