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Ahold Says SEC Has Started Inquiry

AMSTERDAM - Dutch retail and foodservice group Ahold said on Wednesday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had started an inquiry into accounting irregularities at the supermarkets group.

Ahold shocked markets on Monday when it announced the company's auditors had found accounting irregularities and warned its 2002 profits would be "significantly" lower than previously thought following overstatement of earnings at U.S. Foodservice in 2001 and 2002.

Ahold said it would have to restate its results for 2000, 2001 and 2002's interim results.

Ahold is also now facing lawsuits on behalf of shareholders who have lost money in the stock's huge sell-off, attorneys said on Tuesday.

Two shareholder lawsuits, which seek class-action status, were filed in Virginia and New York by the firms Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll and Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, the law firms said in statements.
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