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ID NEWS: Ahold delays SEC filing; also, General Mills gets SEC request for info--declines to say if

Royal Ahold, Zaandam, The Netherlands, again has delayed filing its 2002 results under U.S. accounting rules to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to Reuters.

However, the international food retailing and foodservice distribution giant said it will make the filing "fast" after missing this self-imposed deadline. "The reason [for the delay] is that we chose carefulness and accuracy over speed," Ahold spokesman Walter Samuels told Reuters. "Haste could lead to errors, and that would be in nobody's interest." Samuels pointed out that the document is 450 pages long and that Ahold is in the final check phase.

Ahold said earlier this month that its net loss under U.S. accounting rules will be significantly higher as a result of a goodwill writedown of 3.2 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in 2002, including 2.7 billion euros for U.S. Foodservice (USF, Columbia, MD, the American broadliner subsidiary responsible for nearly $900 million in profit overstatements over several years. (See ID Report, October 10, 2003.)

Separately, General Mills, a USF customer, has received a formal request from the SEC for information concerning its sales and accounting practices, Reuters also reports. The Minneapolis-based manufacturer says it believes its business and accounting practices are proper and comply with all applicable regulations and that it is cooperating fully in providing information. A spokesperson declined to say if the request is related to the accounting practices discovered at USF, which involved improper reporting of vendor rebates.
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