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    Ahold to Sell Polish Stores to Carrefour

    AMSTERDAM - Retail conglomerate Ahold, based here, said yesterday it would sell its Polish retail business, which has been losing money, to French supermarket operator Carrefour for 375 million euros (about $500 million), a higher price than analysts had expected

    AMSTERDAM - Retail conglomerate Ahold, based here, said yesterday it would sell its Polish retail business, which has been losing money, to French supermarket operator Carrefour for 375 million euros (about $500 million), a higher price than analysts had expected

    According to Carrefour, the purchase of the business was intended to spur organic growth and will make Carrefour the second-biggest operator in the Polish market. The company currently has 32 hypermarkets and 71 supermarkets in the country.

    SNS Securities analyst Richard Withagen told Reuters that the French retailer was willing to pay the higher price to gain surpass U.K. competitor Tesco in market share.

    In the wake of an exhaustive review of its retail operations, Ahold said last month it would sell its U.S. Foodservice division, its Tops market chain in the United States, and its Polish and Slovakian operations. There has been analyst speculation that the streamlined company could then merge with Belgian counterpart Delhaize. A shareholder movement, led by hedge funds Centaurus Capital and Paulson & Co. Inc., which own a combined 6.4 percent of the business, is urging Ahold to sell off all of its U.S. operations, however.

    The sale of the Polish supermarkets is expected to close in the first half of 2007, subject to regulatory approval, Ahold said.

    In Poland since 1995, Ahold operates 179 supermarkets in country under the Albert banner, in addition to 15 compact hypermarkets and four fuel stations. The company employs about 10,000 people in that country.

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