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ID NEWS: Ahold says it will make audit deadline; new USF ceo announcement to be made shortly

Royal Ahold, Zaandam, The Netherlands, still plans to have audited 2002 accounts ready for its bankers by the end of the month, according to Reuters. "Our current assessment is that we will make the September 30 deadline," a spokesman said.

Any delay would be "hugely embarrassing" and could further undermine investor confidence, says Reuters, "at a moment when the group may be forced to ask shareholders to cough up more cash."

Ahold reportedly will unveil a $6.9-billion financing package shortly, including a two-billion-euro rights issue of new stock, a convertible bond of about the same size and another two billion in asset sales. However, a convertible bond issue is considered unlikely because of Ahold's weak credit ratings and ongoing judicial and regulatory probes into profit overstatements of approximately $1 billion, primarily at the Columbia, MD, based U.S. Foodservice (USF) broadliner subsidiary.

Meanwhile, at ID press time, it was expected that a new USF ceo would be announced within another week.

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