Beleaguered Dutch retailer Ahold has confirmed that it is engaged in negotiations with Chilean retailer Cencosud regarding the sale of Ahold's controlling stake in Argentine supermarket chain Disco.

Ahold said the two companies still have to finalise the stock purchase agreement and Cencosud must conclude its confirmatory due diligence. A binding transaction is expected to be signed before year-end. Closing of the transaction is conditional upon obtaining local anti-trust approval, which may be expected before the end of the second quarter of 2004.

Cencosud operates 12 hypermarkets and 23 DIY stores in Argentina. It acquired Ahold's stake in the Chilean supermarket chain Santa Isabel in July 2003.
The intended divestment of Disco, which operates over 230 stores in Argentina, is part of Ahold's strategic plan to restructure its portfolio, to divest underperforming assets, and to concentrate on its mature and most stable markets.