ShopKo Stores Inc. signed a merger agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, who — for the moment — appears to have beaten out its chief rival, Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison, in the race to buy the Midwest-based discounter.

ShopKo originally reached an accord with Goldner Hawn in April for $24 per share, but subsequent bids have driven the price to $29 per share. Both firms topped out at that figure in bids submitted in mid-October, but Sun Capital is also adding a 6 percent per year per share premium to its offer, beginning on Dec. 15 and ending on the closing date of the transaction. Overall, Sun Capital's bid is worth at least $1.3 billion, including the assumption of $415 million in debt.

Goldner Hawn could choose to come back with another counteroffer, but a spokesperson for ShopKo said he did not think that was likely. The deal's closure is now subject to shareholder approval.

Developers Diversified Realty Corp. had been part of an unsolicited offer led by Sun Capital in early October, but was not part of the final offer that ShopKo accepted According to a company spokesperson, DDR was brought on to advise Sun Capital on the potential re-use of the real estate. But DDR was not far enough along in the process to feel it could commit to the deal, the spokesperson said.

“We continue in the same role as we are evaluating real estate for potential opportunities,” the DDR spokesperson said. “We're doing our homework. We have a free look and the first call on what to do, but it's too early for us to make a formal commitment or comment on the potential structure.”