Ahold agrees to sell U.S. Foodservice unit

/ Source: The Associated Press

Netherlands-based grocery store operator Royal Ahold NV said Wednesday it agreed to sell distributor U.S. Foodservice to a consortium of private equity firms for $7.1 billion.

The Amsterdam-based company said the transaction with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Fund VII LP and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. is expected to close in the second half of 2007, pending customary conditions, including antitrust clearance and shareholder approval.

Ahold’s board is asking shareholders to approve the sale at a special meeting scheduled for June 19.

“I am extremely pleased to be able to announce that we have reached this important milestone for U.S. Foodservice, for Ahold and for our shareholders. We have focused on restructuring U.S. Foodservice, strengthening its capabilities and restoring profitability,” said President and Chief Executive Anders Moberg.

Ahold said U.S. Foodservice reported 2006 net sales of $19.2 billion. Several U.S. Foodservice managers were convicted for fraud in overstating earnings by around $1 billion from 1999 through 2002.

Ahold’s annual meeting is scheduled for Thursday.