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    Ahold Reportedly Eying Harris Teeter Purchase

    Deal could help retail conglomerate expand in South, D.C. area

    Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc., which has retained JPMorgan Chase & Co. to explore its options in regard to putting itself up for sale, has snared the attention of retail conglomerate Ahold, according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, citing “people with knowledge of the matter.” The companies involved have declined to comment on the matter.

    The report said that Amsterdam-based Ahold has contacted New York-based JPMorgan for additional information on the sale process, but hasn’t yet made a formal bid.

    “We regard Harris Teeter as a likely deal for Ahold,” Rabobank analyst Patrick Roquas wrote in a report cited by Bloomberg. Acquiring Harris Teeter would facilitate Ahold’s further expansion in the southern United States and Washington, D.C., added BMO Capital Markets analyst Karen Short in the article. Short also mentioned Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets Inc. and Cincinnati’s Kroger Co. as possible buyers.

    Other brokerages, among them Barclays, were skeptical that Ahold would buy all of Harris Teeter, positing that returning proceeds from the recent sale of its stake in Swedish grocer ICA to its shareholders would be a better move, according to Bloomberg.

    Matthews, N.C.-based Harris Teeter, which operates more 200 stores in the Southeast, said it hired JPMorgan after being approached by two private equity firms, which it declined to identify.
     

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