Delhaize took the initiative in the discussions with Ahold. They were pushed by competition from discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl, the Dutch paper De Telegraf reported. According to the Dutch paper, the company was under-estimated when the latest yearly figures from Ahold were presented. The Delhaize group’s boss, Frans Muller, saw it as an opportunity to launch discussions about a merger with the companies on an even footing. “Waiting a year or two and presenting negative figures during this period would have made the Belgian’s position weaker”, De Telegraf explains.
The paper says that a merger would mean Ahold would not have to hand out large sums of money to Delhaize shareholders as a merger would “sell” more easily than a take-over.
When questioned by the Dutch paper, a Delhaize spokesman said there were not discussions about a merger, but “preliminary discussions that could lead to one”.