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    Ahold Ends Account Investigations

    AMSTERDAM - Ahold today announced it has completed internal forensic probes into its accounts and has found a total of $1.1 billion in irregularities that will force it to restate results.

    AMSTERDAM - Ahold today announced it has completed internal forensic probes into its accounts and has found a total of $1.1 billion in irregularities that will force it to restate results.

    The global retailer said it had uncovered an additional 73 million euros in intentional accounting irregularities. This figure comes on top of a $856 million accounting hole at the Dutch group's key U.S. Foodservice unit, where a legal investigation is continuing, and other irregularities at its U.S. unit Tops and Latin American business Disco.

    Ahold did not say where the additional sum was found but said it was related to improper accounting for acquisitions and that it could reduce its pre-tax earnings by the same amount.

    Over and above the $1.1 billion accounting hole, Ahold will also likely have to make other goodwill adjustments and asset revaluations -- writedowns, which some industry analysts estimate could be a further $2 billion, according to Reuters.

    Ahold also said it had found eight million euros worth of "questionable transactions" at its Latin American unit Disco, which analysts say is now ready for disposal.

    The company has established a task force with Ahold management and external advisors to address the accounting issues and internal control failures. The group expects necessary changes to be implemented by the end of 2003.

    Ahold has made or is making personnel changes at U.S. Foodservice, Disco, the Tops stores in the U.S. and the Ahold parent company. A spokeswoman did not give further details.

    Under a $3 billion credit facility, Ahold must deliver audited consolidated 2002 accounts by August 15 to its banks. The company said it was filing a notification of late filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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