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    Ahold to Acquire Alliant Foodservice

    The $1.5-billion deal could be announced as soon as this week.

    Dutch convenience store and supermarket operator Koninklijke Ahold NV is in advanced talks to buy Alliant Foodservice Inc. for $1.5 billion cash plus $700 million in assumed debt, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    The deal would strengthen Ahold's U.S. presence and its advance into food services. Alliant, a privately-held company, is the third biggest food distributor in the United States behind leader Sysco Corp. and U.S. Foodservice, an Ahold subsidiary, the report said.

    Ahold, whose portfolio of convenience store and supermarket brands includes Wilson Farm Stores, Golden Gallon, Giant Food and Stop & Shops, has been the only major food retailer to buy large positions in the food distribution industry, Lisa Cartwright, an analyst with Salomon Smith
    Barney, told The Journal. This leaves the company better positioned to deliver high quality, prepared foods to convenience stores and supermarkets.

    Officials for Alliant and Ahold declined to comment on any pending transaction. But in reporting second-quarter earnings last week, Ahold said was in active takeover talks with various companies. Ahold Chief Executive Cees van der Hoeven declined to name the firms involved.

    Last year, Ahold purchased U.S. Foodservice in a transaction then worth $3.6 billion. U.S. Foodservice then began acquiring other companies, including PYA/Monarch, a major southeastern food distributor, for $1.57 billion from Sara Lee Corp., the report said.

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