Mon, Jul 25, 2016 - Page 14 News List

Ahold, Delhaize finalize merger

AFP, THE HAGUE, The Netherlands

Dutch retail giant Royal Ahold NV and Belgian rival Delhaize Group on Saturday said they had finalized their mega-merger after US regulatory authorities gave the union the green light.

Both groups said they had inked an agreement to take effect from 10:01pm after the US Federal Trade Commission gave its assent.

The commission had earlier said the sale of 81 stores must be split between seven different US buyers.

“With our new management team we are very happy to continue to serve our clients and other shareholders,” said Ahold chief executive officer Dick Boer, who becomes chief executive officer of the merged firm, with Delhaize chief executive Frans Muller to serve as his deputy.

Delhaize chairman Mats Jansson said the two companies were coming together “to create an even stronger international retailer.”

Between them the firms have 6,750 stores in Europe and the US and employ 380,000 people.

Based in Zaandam just outside Amsterdam, Ahold announced in June last year it was merging with Delhaize to create one of the world’s largest retail companies with a turnover of more than 54 billion euros (US$59 billion).

It agreed earlier this month to sell 86 US-based stores to receive approval from competition authorities.

Analysts said the merger will create the fifth-largest grocery chain in the fiercely contested US market and the fourth-largest in Europe.

The pair achieved total sales last year of 62 billion euros — 38.2 billion euros for Ahold and 24.4 billion euros for Delhaize.

The two groups see themselves as complementary in the US market, where Ahold present mostly the northeast with its Stop&Shop, while Delhaize’s Food Lion is prevalent in the southeast.

In Europe, the two companies seldom overlap in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Ahold shareholders are to own 61 percent of the combined company and Delhaize shareholders the remaining 39 percent.

The firms estimate potential annual synergies of as much as 500 million euros within three years.

The merged entity is to be quoted as “AD” on the Amsterdam and Brussels bourses from today.

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