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Officials Allow Limited Inquiry into Ahold's Affairs

ZAANDAM, The Netherlands - The Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has ordered a limited inquiry into the conduct of certain actions of Ahold from Jan. 1, 1998, to Dec. 18, 2003, according to the multinational retailer.

The request for the inquiry, the intent of which is not to seek damages from Ahold, was submitted in February 2004 by the Vereniging van Effectenbezitters ("VEB") and several other shareholders.

Ahold said the inquiry is limited to the following issues: consolidation of joint ventures, its acquisition of U.S. Foodservice, Columbia, MD, and its supervision on the organization and operation of internal controls of subsidiaries, including U.S. Foodservice.

All other requests for inquiry made by the petitioners have been rejected by the Enterprise Chamber, including all challenges of policies pursued after Feb. 24, 2003, Ahold said. Also, the request for precautionary measures, which might have interfered with present management policies, has been rejected, it added.

"Recently, two important investigations with respect to the company have been completed. Settlements have been effected with the Dutch Public Prosecutions Department and, without a fine, with the SEC. This was primarily due to the fact that Ahold has cooperated fully in these investigations and to the major recovery measures we have taken. We will also fully co-operate with this inquiry, ordered by the Enterprise Chamber. Ahold will attempt to ensure that the inquiry will be concluded as soon as possible in the interest of its shareholders and other stakeholders," observed Peter Wakkie, member of the Ahold executive board and chief corporate governance counsel.

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