Dutch retailer Royal Ahold has declined to comment on rumours that negotiations to merge with Belgian supermarket group Delhaize are proceeding apace.

According to Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, Ahold and Delhaize have removed some of the stumbling blocks preventing a merger. Ahold has reportedly agreed to a Delhaize-appointed CEO. According to the newspaper, the group has also agreed to the principle of its headquarters being relocated to Belgium.

However, the report continued, there remain several chinks that must be ironed out before a deal can be struck. Most notably, Delhaize wants a merger of equals - despite the fact that it is half Ahold's size. The companies are supposedly considering a one-off "superior dividend" financed by the sale of some of Ahold's US operations.

"We do not comment on market rumour or speculation," a spokesperson for Ahols told just-food today (25 September).