Ahold Completes Sale of Deli XL

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold yesterday said it had consummated the sale of Deli XL, its Ede, Netherlands-based delivered foodservice wholesale subsidiary. The transaction's value came to about 140 million euros (US $171.7 million), comprising cash, debt repaid to Ahold, and assumed debt.

The buyer is an affiliate of the Bidvest Group, Ltd., a South Africa-based diversified company with a strong presence in the foodservice industry in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The top delivered foodservice wholesaler in the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg) with consolidated 2004 net sales of 819 million euros (US $1.0 billion), Deli XL is particularly prominent in the institutional and catering segments of the foodservice market. The company currently supplies more than 60,000 products to about 34,000 customers, among them hospitals, company cafeterias, schools, hotels, and restaurants. Deli XL has about 2,100 employees in the Netherlands and Belgium.

According to Ahold, the divestment of Deli XL was part of its strategic plan to restructure its portfolio to focus on retail activities in the Netherlands and to bolster its financial position by reducing debt.

"The divestment of Deli XL marks an important step towards finalizing our divestment program," said Ahold president and c.e.o. Anders Moberg in a statement issued July 15, the day the transaction was announced by Ahold and Bidvest. "Our strategy for the Dutch business is targeted on its retail activities. The investment and management attention needed to assume a greater role in European foodservice is inconsistent with this focus. We therefore believe that Deli XL's potential in the out-of-home food market can better be realized under an owner such as Bidvest. We are confident that this buyer is committed to pursue the further improvement and development of Deli XL and its staff."

The closing was subject to customary price adjustments and the fulfillment of certain conditions, including antitrust approval.
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