KKR to pursue Ahold units

Following its withdrawal from the Safeway auction, the US buyout firm is considering a possible offer for the US units of the struggling Dutch retailer.

Dutch retail group Royal Ahold, currently at the centre of Europe’s latest accounting scandal, is preparing to sell a number of its retail units, with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) among the interested parties.

 

Ahold, which last week revealed that it had overstated income at its US Foodservice division by as much as E500m, is planning a fire sale of its US businesses. According to The Times newspaper, the units for sale include the group’s US grocery chains, Giant, Bi-Lo and Stop & Shop.

 

A deal for Ahold’s US retail outlets would add up for KKR. The firm is known to be interested in the retail sector, following its interest in UK supermarket chain Safeway. The firm is understood to have decided against a bid for Safeway because of the intense competition in the auction, which is likely to see bidding exceed the £3bn mark.

 

KKR, a former owner of Safeway in the US, has also previously held interests in Ahold’s US operations. It backed a management buyout of Stop & Shop in 1988, later selling it to the Dutch retailer in 1996. KKR, which was also linked with a bid for Dutch retail group Vendex KBB last year, has declined to comment on the reports.

 

Also in the running to acquire Ahold’s assets is French retail group Carrefour, which today said it could not rule out an offer for some of the firm’s European divisions. CVC Capital Partners could also be interested in bidding for part of the Royal Ahold business, following its acquisition last year of six retail divisions from Vendex for E394m. The firm was unavailable for comment.