Initial offers were reportedly submitted for the No. 2 foodservice distributor in the 2007 ID Top 50 Report, which may be valued at as much as $6 billion, in the auction being run by JP Morgan Chase & Co., Reuters reported, referring to unidentified sources. Clayton Dubilier & Rice Inc. and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. also jointly bid, Reuters said.
"The more dogs fighting over one bone, the higher the price will go," Corne van Zeijl, who oversees $1.3 billion, including Ahold shares, at SNS Asset Management in the Dutch town of Den Bosch, was quoted as saying. "Private equity companies would be interested in it because food-service competitors have shown there is significant upside with margins in this industry."
Ahold stock climbed 11 cents, or 1.4%, to 7.78 euros. The shares have added 12% in the past year.
Ahold purchased U.S. Foodservice for $3.6 billion in 2000 and later combined it with food distributor Alliant Exchange, Inc., which it bought from Clayton Dubilier for $2.2 billion in 2001. U.S. Foodservice had sales of $19.2 billion in 2006. according to the 2007 ID Top 50 Report.