Delhaize retail group to take over east Europe rival

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Belgian food retailer Delhaize said Thursday it has reached a deal to acquire Serbian rival Delta Maxi Group for nearly one billion euros, widening the company's foothold in eastern Europe.

Delhaize will take over Delta Maxi Group for 932.5 million ($1.3 billion), including net debt of around 300 million euros, the Belgian group said in a statement.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter, pending approval from competition regulators.

Delta Maxi Group operates more than 450 stores in Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania. It is the largest food retailer in Serbia.

The Serbian company employs around 15,000 people with estimated 2011 revenue of 1.35-1.40 billion euros.

"We foresee significant revenue growth and synergies potential from integrating these new markets in our existing European business," Delhaize chief executive Pierre-Olivier Beckers said.

"The Southeast of Europe continues to be a very promising region in terms of economic and consumer spending growth, both supporting the roll-out of modern retailing," he said.

Delhaize makes most of its money in retail in the United States but it is also present in southeastern Europe, in Greece and Romania.

"This transaction is an important step in rebalancing our geographic portfolio between our US, European and Asian operations," Beckers said.

© 2011 AFP

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