Supermarket company Ahold today (Friday) announced that agreement has been reached with Bidvest Holding BV on the divestment of its Dutch delivered foodservice wholesale subsidiary Deli XL.


The buyer is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bidvest Group Limited, a South Africa based, diversified company with a strong presence in the foodservice industry in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


The value of the transaction amounts to approximately €140m (US$170m), consisting of a cash consideration, debt repaid to Ahold as well as assumed debt. Consultative procedures with unions and the representative bodies have been completed. The transaction is subject to the fulfillment of customary closing conditions including competition authority clearance. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.


Deli XL is the leading delivered foodservice wholesaler in the Benelux, with consolidated 2004 net sales of €819m. Deli XL is especially strong in the institutional and catering segments of the foodservice market. Currently, Deli XL supplies over 60,000 products to around 34,000 customers including hospitals, company canteens, schools, hotels and restaurants. Deli XL employs approximately 2,100 staff in The Netherlands and Belgium. Bidvest, with consolidated 2004 sales of €6.7bn, is an international services, trading and distribution company listed on the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa and operating on three continents. Bidvest employs 81,000 people worldwide.


The divestment of Deli XL is part of Ahold's strategic plan to restructure its portfolio to focus on retail activities in The Netherlands and to strengthen its financial position by reducing debt.


"The divestment of Deli XL marks an important step towards finalizing our divestment program," said Ahold president and CEO Anders Moberg. "Our strategy for the Dutch business is targeted on its retail activities. The investment and management attention needed to assume a greater role in European foodservice is inconsistent with this focus. We therefore believe that Deli XL's potential in the out of home food market can better be realized under an owner such as Bidvest. We are confident that this buyer is committed to pursue the further improvement and development of Deli XL and its staff."