Kroger Launches New $500 Million Stock Buyback; Ups Heldman to E.V.P.

CINCINNATI -- The Kroger Co. here said its board of directors authorized a new $500 million stock buyback plan. The new plan replaces another $500 million plan launched in 2004, of which $7.5 million still remained as of the close of business on May 4. The plan is part of Kroger's long-term financial strategy of using one-third of free cashflow for debt reduction and two-thirds for share repurchase and the payment of a cash dividend.

"The new share repurchase program reflects our confidence in the company's strategic plan and our belief that Kroger shares represent an attractive investment opportunity," said David B. Dillon, Kroger's chairman and c.e.o.

In other news, Kroger has promoted Paul W. Heldman, currently s.v.p., secretary, and general counsel, to e.v.p., secretary, and general counsel.

Heldman joined Kroger in 1982 as a staff attorney from the Cincinnati law firm of Beckman Weil Shepardson, LLC. He was elected assistant secretary in 1987, v.p. and general counsel in 1989, secretary in 1992, and s.v.p. and general counsel in 1997.

At the end of fiscal 2005, Kroger, the nation's largest retail grocery chain, operated 2,507 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners. Kroger also operates (either directly or through subsidiaries, franchise agreements, or operating agreements) 791 convenience stores, 428 fine-jewelry stores, 579 supermarket fuel centers, and 42 food-processing plants.
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