After announcing in September 2012 that it was exploring strategic options for its 60% stake in ICA, Ahold has announced that it will sell its stake in the business to Hakon Invest, which owns the remaining 40% in ICA.
Sale to generate strong returns for Ahold
Ahold said that the sale would generate SEK21.2 billion in cash, which includes ICA’s 2012 dividend of SEK1.2 billion. The company did say that the transaction required regulatory approvals and support from the ICA Retailers’ Association (ICA Forbundet), but that all parties expected it to be completed by the middle of 2013.
Stake disposal to leave sourcing agreement intake
Ahold said that the transaction would have ‘no direct impact on the joint activities of ICA and Ahold in areas such as sourcing and responsible retailing’. Attention will now turn to what Ahold will do with the money generated by the stake’s sale, with many commentators expecting it to be returned to shareholders rather than in making a large-scale purchase.
Sale to enable Ahold to hone focus on winning strategy
The disposal of the stake in ICA frees Ahold of a legacy holding and will allow it to concentrate on the six pillar strategy that it reiterated at its analyst presentations in late 2012. This will see the company focus on building its online expertise and extending this into a number of its markets and supporting its growth within the convenience store channel.