Ahold, the troubled Dutch retailer which is facing a probe into accounting irregularities, has continued with the sale of its non-core foreign businesses.
Early this month, the retailer announced that it was to sell its Latin American business, the first phase of a previously-announced withdrawal from non-core markets, a move which prompted speculation about the future of other Ahold units.
While speculation at the time centred on the company's Malaysian Tops unit, which was thought to be of interest to Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International, the first of Ahold's Asian units to be sold is in fact in Indonesia, where it also operates under the Tops fascia.
Ahold is to sell the Indonesian operations to the local company Hero Supermarkets for approximately €12 million, excluding proceeds from the sale of store inventory. The deal, which is subject to approval from Hero's shareholders, is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter 2003.
Hero is a leading food retailer in Indonesia, with 200 outlets throughout Indonesia. The company will acquire a further 23 stores from Ahold (including one under construction) along with two distribution centres. Staff at Ahold's Indonesian headquarters are not included in the transaction, although Ahold said it was committed to meeting its obligations to these associates.
The divestment of Ahold's activities in Indonesia is part of the company's strategic plan to restructure its portfolio to focus on high-performing businesses, to concentrate on its mature and most stable markets and to reduce its debt. Other Asian business units are likely to be sold off in the near future, with both local players and Ahold's major international rivals likely to be interested.
Ahold first entered the Indonesian market through a technical service agreement with the PSP group in 1996. That agreement ended in 2002 and Ahold Tops Indonesia became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dutch group.