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The Buffalo News reports that the sale of Tops Markets by Ahold to Morgan Stanley Private Equity for $310 million is likely to bring out some very specific changes in the way the company is run.

“Tops will return to being a standalone supermarket chain,” the News writes. “Local corporate jobs will be restored, and the new owner plans to invest in stores. The deal also removes the uncertainty about who would emerge as the new owner, 11 months after Ahold announced Tops was for sale. But it raises further questions about how long its new owner will stick around before trying to cash out its investment by selling Tops once again.”

Gary Matthews, managing director and operating partner with Morgan Stanley Private Equity, told the News that his firm had a “nice long-term horizon” with Tops, and the company maintains that its goal is to invest in the company and build on its customer loyalty and current employee base.
KC's View:
I suspect that Morgan Stanley’s definition of “long-term horizon” is very different from mine, and from that held by the folks who work at Tops.

When you read “Your Views” below, you’ll see an email by an MNB user who has some experience with Morgan Stanley Private Equity ownership, and he lays out the program with a great deal of specificity. And it ain’t a long-term gig.

One of the things that I also found interesting was that the return of Frank Curci, the company’s former CEO, as the man who will handle the transition and is likely to return to the CEO’s office, is not seen by everyone as a positive for Tops. I got an email on Friday from someone clearly on the inside up at Tops who suggested that Curci will not be viewed as a good choice by either associates or vendors, and that he earned a lot of enemies during Ahold’s financial scandals of just a few years ago.

It is hard to imagine under the circumstances that Tops’ best days are ahead of it, at last not in the short-term.

One bit of full disclosure: I have a sister who happens to work for Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, though not for Morgan Stanley. However, I rarely talk to her, and never about business, and I would be more likely to get info about Morgan Stanley from my sister who works as an elementary school librarian.