The chairman of the Portuguese retail group Jeronimo Martins has said the company may have to issue more debt to finance its EUR1bn (US$1.3bn) investment programme to 2009 and to buy out Ahold's 49% stake in the supermarket chain JM Retalho.

"JM has today a momentum that will allow it to buy out Ahold and to continue with growth programmes, namely in Poland," Alexandre Soares dos Santos said in an interview with Diario Economico, adding that the Ahold deal, thought to be worth in the region of EUR400m - EUR600m, should be finalised by the middle of next year.

Soares dos Santos also said that a reorganisation of the company is planned for June 2007, which may also lead to a flotation of its expanding Polish discount operation Biedronka on the Warsaw stock exchange.

Jeronimo Martins expects to increase turnover to EUR6bn this year, from EUR4.2bn in 2005.