Clayton and KKR to Buy U.S. Foodservice for $7.1 Billion

Royal Ahold NV bought U.S. Foodservice, the nation's second-biggest foodservice distributor, according to the 2007 ID Top 50, for $3.6 billion in 2000. The Dutch company subsequently became embroiled in a major scandal by overstating three years of earnings mostly at U.S. Foodservice. It put the division up for sale last November.

The transaction may be completed in the second half of the year, the Amsterdam-based company said in its statement on the Hugin newswire.

The food-distribution industry accounts for about half of U.S. consumers' food spending and is growing about twice as quickly as food retailing, Bloomberg said.

Royal Ahold bought Alliant Foodservice, Inc., in 2001 for $2.2 billion to help U.S. Foodservice compete with Sysco. Ahold's sales from food distribution were 19.2 billion euros last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ahold split the division into a unit that serves non-commercial accounts and one that focuses on chains in 2005.

The company said last year that annual operating profit at the Columbia, MD-distributorship would be 1.7% of sales in 2007. That would still trail No. 1 Sysco, which had an operating margin of 4.6% in the year ended July 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


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