ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here is "ahead of schedule" in pursuing its divestiture program, the company said at its annual shareholder meeting last week.
, president and chief executive officer, Ahold, in a speech to shareholders, a copy of which was provided to SN. "By the end of March 2005, the total had risen to 2.6 billion euros [$3.3 billion]. We are therefore ahead of schedule in terms of achieving our target of a minimum of 2.5 billion euros [$3.2 billion] by the end of 2005."
The company has sold its Spanish operations and its Bompreco, Hipercard and G. Barbosa operations in Brazil, completing our withdrawal from that country. It also completed its withdrawal from Asia in March 2004. In addition, Ahold recently said it reached an agreement to sell its Tops convenience-store division.
"Our divestment program not only helps us to generate the much needed financial resources to strengthen our balance sheet but, just as importantly, it brings back the much needed business focus to improve the performance of our core assets," Moberg said.
He also said the company has "made substantial progress on [the legal] front" since its financial implosion two years ago as a result of a variety of accounting problems, mostly at its U.S. Foodservice division. The company has settled charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, although he noted that civil proceedings launched against the company in the United States are ongoing.
He described the combination of Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover as one of the company's "foundations for future growth."
"It was costly and at times disruptive to day-to-day business. However, from this year on, we expect to realize considerable savings every year from this initiative."