Sunday's Tribune (http://bit.ly/1a3HgSD) revealed how Jana Partners, an activist-based Wall Street hedge fund that recently purchased over $300 million in Safeway stock, demanded that Safeway "exit subscale and lower-margin geographies" or face the intense pressures that such funds can exert. Three weeks later Safeway announced its decision to close all of its Dominick's stores.
The stock Jana held increased by roughly $8 a share. Jana has already sold more than a third of those shares, turning its attention elsewhere.
And we have lost our Dominick's.
I'm too heartsick to look through my mutual funds to see if I hold any Safeway stock. It never would have occurred to me to avoid it because I believe in investing in places where I shop. I can't even bring myself to blame the management of Safeway, one of so many companies that crumbled under the boot-heel of hedge-fund raiders.
I would give back every penny my investments earned this year to have the Lake Street Dominick's back. Every penny just to know that the employees I know by name — Ester, Shawna, Sue, Peter, Cathy, Ricardo and more — still had a job. Every penny to know that Michael — wonderful, sweet Michael with the amazing smile — would start the New Year with a safe and stable routine.
Jana Partner's founder, Barry Rosenstein, doesn't care. This modern-day Scrooge is already looking for new "inefficiencies" to eliminate.
Thanks to his zeal, we are diminished.