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Ahold, Delhaize announce retail mega-merger

Dutch retail giant Ahold and its Belgian rival Delhaize on Wednesday announced their merger, creating one of the world’s largest retail companies with a turnover of more than 54 billion euros ($61 billion).

“Ahold and Delhaize announce this morning their intention to combine their businesses through a merger of equals,” a statement said, with the deal set to be concluded by mid-2016.

Ahold shareholders will own 61 percent of the new company and Delhaize 39 percent, it added, creating a business with 6,500 shops and 375,000 employees.

Ahold shares jumped 3.09 percent in Amsterdam on Wednesday to 19.54 euros, while shares in Delhaize were down 4.79 percent to 83.81 euros in Brussels, the day after rising more than eight percent on rumours of the deal.

The new company, which will be able to serve over 50 million customers a week in the United States and Europe, will save 500 million euros a year in synergies from the third year after fusion, it said.

Delhaize operates mainly in the United States, eastern Europe and Belgium, while Ahold owns Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn and Stop & Shop in the US.

Delhaize’s share price jumped by more than eight percent on the Brussels stock market on Tuesday on rumours of the deal, before trading was suspended.

Ahold boss Dick Boer will be the new company’s chief executive, and Delhaize’s chief executive Frans Muller will be his deputy, tasked with integrating the two rivals.

The merger will create the fifth-largest food retailer in the United States, with sales of over 54 billion euros and more than four percent of the US grocery market, according to analysts at Natixis.

In Europe, the combined business will become the fourth-biggest food retailer, Natixis said.