TESCO DENIES INTEREST IN BUYING ALBERTSONS
atly denied any interest in buying Albertsons, according to British press reports last week. "We've no interest in Albertsons as a company," Terry Leahy, chief executive officer, told BBC Radio 4 here. However, he said Tesco remains interested in entering the U.S. marketplace. "We've been researching the United States for a long time. I think one of my first jobs when I joined Tesco in 1983 was to go and research the United States, and we're still doing it," he said. Leahy's comments came in response to reports in a British business publication that Tesco was in the early stages of preparing due diligence on Albertsons. Albertsons said on Sept. 2 it was considering strategic options to maximize shareholder value, including a possible sale of the company.
MOODY'S LOWERS RATINGS ON ALBERTSONS' DEBT
NEW YORK -- Moody's Investors Service here yesterday said it has lowered the debt ratings of Albertsons, Boise, Idaho, following soft second-quarter results and the company's quest for a possible sale. The rating on the senior unsecured long-term debt was lowered to Baa3 from Baa2, and the short-term rating was lowered to Prime-3 from Prime-2. Moody's continued its review for possible downgrade. "The downgrade is based on the challenges that Albertsons faces in restoring its value proposition and its profitability in the face of fierce competition from Wal-Mart supercenters, traditional supermarket operators and a variety of other grocery retailers," Moody's said. "The continuing review reflects Albertsons' announcement that it is exploring strategic alternatives to increase shareholder value, which could result in a company with a significantly different configuration and financial profile."
WAL-MART BUYS AHOLD'S STAKE IN RETAILER
ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold last week said it agreed to sell its indirectly owned stake in its Central American joint venture to Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark. Terms were not disclosed. Ahold owned a 33.3% interest in CARHCO, which operates 363 stores in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua through Corporacion de Supermercados Unidos and an 85.6% stake in La Fragua.
WEGMANS SET TO OPEN FIRST MARYLAND STORE
HUNT VALLEY, Md. -- Wegmans is planning to open its first Maryland store here Oct. 2, the company said last week. The 140,000-square-foot supermarket will employ 600 and will be located in an upscale retail shopping center on the outskirts of the Baltimore suburbs. The Hunt Valley Towne Center also includes a Wal-Mart, several apparel retailers and a handful of quick-service and casual-dining restaurants. Wegmans said its 60,000 offerings at the store will include extensive kosher and international selections, French pastries and a variety of household goods. It will also have a 300-seat Market Cafe and an outdoor patio. The location will be the 69th outlet for the chain, which is based in Rochester, N.Y.
UNION GETS OK AT WAL-MART CANADA AUTO CENTER
BURNABY, British Columbia -- A provincial labor board has certified a union at a Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express department at a Wal-Mart store in Cranbrook, British Columbia, according to the United Food & Commercial Workers Canada. A majority of workers in the department voted in favor of a union, said UFCW Canada, which in recent months has also won certification at three Wal-Mart locations in Quebec, where first-contract talks are under way. UFCW Canada has applied for union certification at two other tire and lube departments at Wal-Mart stores here.