Dutch giant Ahold seen as prey in US supermarket wars

Ahold Delhaize, the newly formed Dutch-Belgian supermarket group, may be an M&A target in the US if the acquisition of speciality supermarket Whole Foods by internet behemoth Amazon signals the start of a trend, sector analysts have suggested.

Zaandam-based Ahold Delhaize generates more than two-thirds of its annual revenues in the US and this alone makes parts of it attractive to competitors, said the Financieele Dagblad on Tuesday.

In addition several of the group’s operating companies in the US, such as Giant and Food Lion, may themselves be attractive takeover propositions. Ahold Delhaize is concentrated in the highly populated and generally affluent northeast of the US.

Bruno Monteyne of merchant bank Bernstein told the paper Amazon is certainly interested in the Ahold subsidiaries. The internet giant needs more than just the Whole Foods supermarkets to operate a good US distribution network, he said.

Ahold Delhaize is now the fourth-largest supermarket group in the US. Analyst Monteyne said Kroger, the second-largest supermaker operator, might also be intertested in parts of the Dutch-Belgian concern. A combine with Kroger would generate $180b in annual sales, comparable to that of market leader Walmart, he said.

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