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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - In conjunction with details pertaining to a new corporate governance code it recently adopted, Ahold said two of its seven supervisory board members would step down.
Ahold said three supervisory board members -- Michael Perry, Bob Tobin and Roland Fahlin -- will step down from the supervisory board at the annual general meeting of shareholders in June 2004, while Lodewijk de Vink and Cynthia Schneider will depart next year.
In the wake of a massive accounting scandal emanating from its U.S. Foodservice subsidiary last year, Ahold said board member Bob Tobin wasn't independent enough under the code's rules because he was once chief executive of its U.S. flagship Stop & Shop chain, while Roland Fahlin once headed Ahold's joint venture in Scandinavia, ICA.
Ahold dismissed Dutch media reports suggesting that one of the departing board members, Fahlin, and a current manager, Jan Andreae, knew about improper bookkeeping at ICA, which is seen as a secondary issue to the problems at U.S. Foodservice, according to the Associated Press.
For its part, the embattled international retailer, which is fighting to restore its image, said its own investigations had shown no reason to impose sanctions on the pair.
Ahold is introducing the corporate governance guidelines in line with the recommendations of the country's new corporate governance code, the Tabaksblat Code. As a result, Ahold said it would discuss its far-reaching proposals in an extraordinary general shareholders meeting on March 3.
The company's new code grants shareholders more rights, including in the appointment and firing of management, and in setting remuneration policy. "With these proposals we reaffirm our strong commitment to corporate governance throughout the new Ahold," said c.e.o. Anders Moberg.
Separately, employees at the company's Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop subsidiary averted a threatened strike by approving a new three-year contract for 40,000 workers in three states.
Union members voted throughout the day to approve the agreement, which negotiators reached at 4 a.m. Feb. 15 after working through the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Quincy, Mass.-based chain.
Five locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union were involved in the talks, and by Sunday evening all five had ratified the contract.