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    Ahold, La Fragua and CSU Complete Joint Venture in Central America

    GUATEMALA, COSTA RICA, and ZAANDAM, The Netherlands - Paiz Ahold, the 50/50 joint venture of La Fragua and Ahold in Central America, and Costa Rican supermarket and hypermarket company CSU have announced the completion of their new regional joint venture.

    GUATEMALA, COSTA RICA, and ZAANDAM, The Netherlands - Paiz Ahold, the 50/50 joint venture of La Fragua and Ahold in Central America, and Costa Rican supermarket and hypermarket company CSU have announced the completion of their new regional joint venture. The joint venture brings together the retail activities of the three companies and now operates 253 food stores in five countries with annual sales of more than $1.3 billion.

    CSU is the leading supermarket and hypermarket operator in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with stores in Honduras as well as important agribusiness operations. Paiz Ahold, through La Fragua, has a prominent position in food retail operations in Guatemala and also has stores in El Salvador and Honduras. The Paiz Ahold joint venture was formed in December 1999.

    The name of the joint venture is CARHCO, the Central American Retail Holding Company. Each of the three partners effectively has a one-third stake. The three partners have seats on the Board reflecting their ownership interest and Carlos Paiz, Chairman of Paiz Ahold, has been appointed the first Chairman of the new joint venture.

    CARHCO will focus on organic growth in its five existing markets -- Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. It will also develop retail activities in other regional markets.

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