Beleaguered Dutch retail giant Ahold plans to take a majority stake in its Swedish subsidiary ICA Ahold, chief executive Anders Moberg has said.

I would like to consolidate ICA into Ahold. I think that would even be a good thing for ICA, because the current situation is not entirely optimal,” Moberg told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

Ahold currently has a 50% stake in ICA Ahold, while Ica Forbundet Invest, a holding company owned by retailers, has a 30% stake and Norway’s Canica has 20%, reported Reuters.

ICA Ahold reported a pre-tax profit of SKr2.4bn (US$0.29bn) for 2002, compared with SKr1.91bn in 2001. The company has around 3,000 stores in Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Moberg also defended his pay package, which has been criticised by some investors. As chief executive of Ahold, Moberg earns a basic salary of €1.5m (US$1.66m) a year, but with guaranteed bonuses and stock options, the total amount could be over €10m.

“I have been offered and I have accepted perhaps the most difficult job in Europe currently,” Moberg was quoted by Reuters as saying. 

“The company is in a very stressed financial situation and this isn’t exactly a nine-to-five job,” he added. “I am taking an extreme risk.”