ID NEWS: Reuters reports 10 USF suspensions, as industry awaits announcement of new ceo

Reuters has reported that 10 executives tied to U.S. Foodservice (USF), Columbia, MD, were suspended by parent company Royal Ahold, Zaandam, The Netherlands, about two weeks ago.

Quoting a source "familiar with the situation," Reuters said the suspensions were related to "violations of corporate policy" but are not directly related to the unit's overstating of earnings by nearly $900 million.

The forensic investigation into USF's books continues. "The audit now is so exhaustive that every problem, no matter how large or small, is being discovered," the source told Reuters.

The temporary suspensions, some of which could become terminations, underscore the need for a "proven top executive" to "clean up the accounting mess" and reestablish the company's credibility, the article states. Announcement of a new ceo is expected early next week.

The new ceo will need an "impeccable reputation," according to analysts. That individual also will need good manufacturer relationships, says Rob Hardy, associated principal of the Hale Group, an industry consultant. This is because the company has "to repair a lot there," he noted.

Indeed, Ahold said last week that USF faces potential over-billing claims of about $60 million by suppliers.

Separately, the Baltimore Sun online publication said on October 3 that Ahold has suspended 21 people in middle and lower management at USF, pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
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