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The Winston-Salem Journal reports that when Publix broke ground for a its first North Carolina store last week, in the community of Ballantyne, senior executives weren't talking about speculation that the company could be interested in acquiring Harris Teeter, which began exploring strategic options for a sale of the company about six weeks ago.

Harris Teeter has said that it has been approached only by two private equity groups interested in buying the company. And such a purchase by Publix would be out of character; CEO Todd Jones told the paper that "the company hasn’t made a large purchase of a competitor since it bought a meatpacking company in the 1930s."

Indeed, Jones suggested that the Publix culture - most senior managers have been with the company since they were in their teens, and Publix stock is all held by employees - works against such an acquisition.

However, he said, Publix is more than happy to compete against Harris Teeter for customers.
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