Ron Burkle buys Fresh & Easy as Tesco flees U.S.

An affiliate of the money-management firm run by billionaire Ronald W. Burkle swept Tesco out of the U.S. market when it bought its U.S. Grocery Chain this week.

Tesco, the British supermarket chain, completed its retreat from the United States on Tuesday after losing a boat load of cash trying to beat North American grocers and c-store operators  with its Fresh & Easy convenience stores.

Will Billionaire Ron Burkle buy Tesco’s Fresh & Easy stores in U.S.?

Billionaire Ron Burkle is rumored to be in talks to buy Tesco Plc’s unprofitable Fresh & Easy grocery chain in the United States.  He plans to use the stores to relaunch the Wild Oats brand, according to a Bloomberg report.  Burkle is the founder of Los Angeles-based private-equity company Yucaipa Cos.

Jim Keyes, the former CEO of 7-Eleven Inc. and Blockbuster Inc., owns the Wild Oats name and will serve as CEO of the new venture.

Tesco invested about $1.6 billion in the chain, which targeted urban areas with private-label food. The operations has lost money since it was started from scratch in 2007.

The Fresh & Easy chain holds about 200 stores in Nevada, California and Arizona.