One day after Dutch retailer Royal Ahold revealed the outcome of its business review, the company’s share value has continued to decline, dropping 3.59% from an opening price of EUR8.35 (US$10.69) to EUR8.06 at 2pm (GMT) today (7 November).
Ahold announced yesterday that it would sell its US foodservice unit, its US Tops retail chain and underperforming operations in Poland and Slovakia. Activist hedge funds Paulson & Co and Centaurus Capital, who collectively hold a 6.4% stake in the company, have been calling for the retailer to increase returns to shareholders through the sale of US operations. While the hedge funds have described the review as “a step in the right direction”, there have been suggestions that it is felt that the company’s disposal programme has not gone far enough.
Meanwhile, JP Morgan Securities has cut Ahold from ‘neutral’ to ‘underweight’, giving the company a price target of EUR7.80. In a research note, the brokerage said it was shocked that the management gave an indication of expected proceeds from the disposals, adding that the EUR4bn forecast was surprisingly low.
Releasing its business review, Ahold said that capital from the disposals would be used to reduce debt by EUR2bn and return EUR2bn to shareholders.