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    Australian Grocer Woolworths Gains New Zealand Berth

    PERTH, Australia -- Australia's largest supermarket chain, Woolworths, said yesterday it has paired with food wholesaler Metcash Trading to acquire the Foodland supermarket chain, based in West Australia and with a substantial presence in neighboring New Zealand. The $2.5 billion deal will give Woolworths almost half of New Zealand's supermarkets, making it the second-largest retailer there.

    PERTH, Australia -- Australia's largest supermarket chain, Woolworths, said yesterday it has paired with food wholesaler Metcash Trading to acquire the Foodland supermarket chain, based in West Australia and with a substantial presence in neighboring New Zealand. The $2.5 billion deal will give Woolworths almost half of New Zealand's supermarkets, making it the second-largest retailer there.

    Woolworths' chief executive Roger Corbett said that the deal provides "an attractive platform for future growth opportunities in New Zealand, including general merchandise and liquor."

    Woolworths said it will pay cash and stock to acquire Foodland's 155 New Zealand stores and 22 Foodland Action shops in Australia. Metcash will pay 780 million Australian dollars in cash or an alternative offer of 859 million in Metcash shares to acquire the remaining assets of Foodland, including 58 Action stores in Australia.

    The deal makes Metcash, which originated in South Africa, Australia's third-largest supermarket group after Woolworths and Coles Meyer.

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