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AMSTERDAM -- Ahold here will invite bids for its Columbia, Md.-based U.S. Foodservice division in early 2007, the retail conglomerate's chief executive Anders Moberg told a Dutch newspaper last week.
Ahold said last month that it would sell the financially troubled business, but didn’t say when a sale might take place.
Private equity firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. have reportedly made a preliminary offer earlier this month to acquire U.S. Foodservice. Although other firms are said to be interested as well, the CD&R/KKR consortium appeared to be at the head of the pack, Reuters reported.
Although he gave no details on a possible sale, Moberg confirmed to De Telegraaf that there was "a lot of interest."
In other Ahold news, the company last week filed a preliminary legal defense against a class action claiming that U.S. Foodservice engaged in an illegal kickback system to overcharge customers. Ahold plans to further file a "substantial" defense document next month, e.v.p. Peter Wakkie told the Financial Times.
Last year the company settled a class action with U.S. pension funds for $1.1 billion in connection with allegations that U.S. Foodservice profits were overstated by the false accounting of promotional allowances.