Ahold 'Not Concerned' by U.S. Foodservice Suit

AMSTERDAM -- Ahold here is reportedly not sweating a putative class action filed in October against its U.S. Foodservice division, accusing the company of overcharging.

In a report in the Financial Times, the grocer's e.v.p., Peter Wakkie, said yesterday that the company was "not concerned" about the litigatio, and added, "We have meritorious defenses, and we will contest this vigorously."

Two U.S. Foodservice customers, a hospital in Connecticut hospital and a Rockford, Ill.-based family-owned Italian restaurant, allege that it overcharged its customers millions of dollars from 2000 to 2003.

Wakkie has said that the claims are unrelated to the accounting overstatement scandal that rocked the division in 2003.

After a through review of its retail operations, Ahold recently put the unit up for sale. Analysts have valued U.S. Foodservice at 5.2 billion euros, and said that the lawsuit is unlikely to prevent a buyer from purchasing the unit, as the complaint could be omitted from any potential deal, leaving Ahold to deal with any consequences.

Wakkie also noted that any potential liability from the class action wouldn't be as high as the $1.1 billion settlement that the company reached with shareholders in 2005.
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