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Ahold and Partners to Form Largest Store Network in Central American Region

GUATEMALA, Costa Rica, The Netherlands - Paiz Ahold, the 50/50 joint venture of food retailers La Fragua and Ahold in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, has signed an agreement with Costa Rican supermarket and hypermarket company CSU to form a new joint venture, bringing together all of their operations in the Central American region.

Each of the partner companies will effectively have a one-third stake in the new venture, named CARHCO (Central American Retail Holding Company).

CSU is already the leading food retailer in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with stores in Honduras as well as important agribusiness operations in the region. Paiz Ahold is the joint venture of Guatemala-based food retailer La Fragua and international food provider Ahold, headquartered in The Netherlands.

The new joint venture will have sales of approximately $1.3 billion and, once completed, becomes the leading retail operation in the Central American region, incorporating five countries. CSU and Paiz Ahold bring to the venture their entire activities in Central America, including store operations, real estate, production and distribution facilities.

Among the objectives of the joint venture are the further improvement of customer services, ongoing organic growth in existing markets and the development of retail activities, directly or through partnerships and acquisitions, in other countries in the region.

CSU Chairman Rodrigo Uribe and Carlos Paiz, Chairman of La Fragua, said in a joint statement that the combined know-how and experience expected to be brought together in CARHCO will further improve the customer services already in place.

"The new economies of scale and synergies will benefit customers, the business and the local economies. As the need for quality food in our markets is rapidly growing, we expect considerable advantages from working closely together. We will be much better positioned to meet ever changing consumer demands. We also have the ambition later on to team up with other local parties in Central American countries where we have no presence yet. Our new partnership will allow us to expand and improve services and Ahold's international expertise contributes to this in important ways. In combination with our local know-how and experience we expect to contribute to the economic growth of the countries we operate in and significantly improve our customers' food shopping experience."
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