Dutch retail giant Ahold has sold its stake in ICA, the Sweden-based retailer, to co-owner Hakon Invest.

The SEK20bn (US$1.96bn) cash deal, announced this morning (11 February), will see Hakon take Ahold’s 60% stake in ICA. Hakon already owned 40% of the grocer.

Ahold revealed a new growth strategy for the group in 2011 and the group again reiterated its aims to focus the execution of this strategy on “businesses it controls in order to create value”.

Ahold, which has stores in Sweden, Norway and the Baltic states, started a review of strategic options for its stake in ICA in September last year. A month later the group booked a decline in third-quarter operating profit as investments in pricing hit margins.

Hakon Invest, which will now change its name to ICA Gruppen, said it will finance the deal with existing cash and a secured bridge financing from Handelsbanken and Nordea.

“The board has carefully evaluated various possible alternatives for a change of ownership in ICA and has now settled on a deal that looks after our shareholders’ interests in the best possible way,” said Hakon Invest’s chairman, Hannu Ryöppönen. “The deal strengthens the conditions for continued satisfactory and stable dividends to our shareholders.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, as well as approval by the ICA Retailers’ Association for the financing of the transaction. It is expected to be completed in the middle of this year.