Ahold to sell US Foodservice subsidiary

Dutch-based Royal Ahold NV plans to sell its subsidiary US Foodservice to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Fund VII LP and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, a consortium of private equity firms. The purchase price is $7.1 billion.

The deal likely will close in the second half of 2007, depending on customary conditions that include antitrust clearance and shareholder approval. Ahold shareholders will be asked to approve the sale at a June 19 special meeting.

This transaction severs the relationship between Ahold and the food distribution unit that overstated its 1999-2002 earnings by about $1 billion, an accounting scandal that nearly bankrupted Ahold. The company refinanced and sold assets to restore its financial standing.

In the wake of the scandal, a number of US Foodservice managers received fraud convictions. The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged 30 more people with signing false audit statements.

Ahold operates Giant, Stop & Shop, and other US supermarket chains. US Foodservice ranks as the United States’ second-largest food distributor.

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