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Moberg: U.S. Foodservice Recovering 'Well'

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Anders Moberg, chief executive of Dutch retail group, Ahold, in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, May 26, expressed his opinion that its American group, U.S. Foodservice, is recovering well.

However, Moberg added, that sales at the second largest American foodservice distributor based in Columbia, MD, are growing but "not at the same pace as Sysco."

He noted that while the largest U.S. distributor posted double-digit growth in the first quarter, U.S. Foodservice is only "getting there."

Moberg also told Reuters that the fate of the foodservice unit has not been decided, noting that the business was creating a "huge amount" of cash flow. Ahold has not been approached by trade or financial buyers with a view to a complete takeover of the group, Moberg said, pointing out that Ahold was capable of taking on Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, on its chosen battlefield.

The Ahold executive expressed his confidence that the multinational retailer would raise a targeted 2.5 billion euros (more than $3 billion) from asset sales as it strives to pay down debt and regain investment grade status. Moberg said there had been a great deal of interest from both financial and trade players in its ongoing tender to sell major assets in Spain and the United States. Bids are due in next week, he said.

"There's been a lot of interest, and there are financial and strategic buyers on the list. Everyone you'd expect, really," Moberg told Reuters, declining to provide further details. Wal-Mart said a day earlier it was interested in establishing a presence in all European markets, but Moberg would not be drawn on whether the U.S. giant was in the running.

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