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Ahold, Delhaize announce intention to merge

BY Antoinette Alexander

BRUSSELS, Belgium and ZAANDAM, The Netherlands — It's official. International food retailers Delhaize and Ahold have entered into an agreement to merge, creating a base of more than 6,500 stores.

The combined company, headquartered in the Netherlands, will have aggregated sales of more than 54 billion euros ($60.5 billion) and be named Ahold Delhaize. It will have more than 375,000 associates serving more than 50 million customers every week in the United States and Europe.

The transaction is expected to be completed mid-2016, following regulatory clearances, associated consultation procedures and shareholder approval.

Dick Boer, CEO of Royal Ahold, will become CEO of the combined company. Frans Muller, CEO of Delhaize Group, will become deputy CEO and chief integration officer.

Mats Jansson, chairman of Delhaize Group, will become chairman of Ahold Delhaize. Royal Ahold Chairman Jan Hommen and Delhaize Group Director Jacques de Vaucleroy will become vice chairmen of Ahold Delhaize.


Jeff Carr, currently CFO of Ahold, will be CFO. Pierre Bouchut, currently CFO of Delhaize, will become COO for Europe. The current COOs of Ahold and Delhaize in the United States, James McCann and Kevin Holt, will stay on as COOs of their respective businesses. 


“The proposed merger with Delhaize is an exciting opportunity to create an even stronger and more innovative retail leader for our customers, associates and shareholders worldwide. With extraordinary reach, diverse products and formats, and great people, we are bringing together two world-class organizations to deliver even more for the communities we serve. Our companies share common values, proud histories rooted in family entrepreneurship, and businesses that complement each other well. We look forward to working together to reach new levels of service and success.”

Added Muller, "We believe that the proposed merger of Ahold and Delhaize will create significant value for all our stakeholders. Supported by our talented and committed associates, Ahold Delhaize aims to increase relevance in its local communities by improving the value proposition for its customers through assortment innovation and merchandising, a better shopping experience both in stores and online, investments in value, and new store growth. We look forward to working closely with the Ahold team to implement a smooth integration process and realize the targeted synergies.”

As part of the deal, Delhaize shareholders will receive 4.75 Ahold ordinary shares for each Delhaize ordinary share. Ahold will terminate its ongoing share buyback program; €1 billion will be returned to Ahold shareholders via a capital return and a reverse stock split prior to completion of the transaction.

According to the companies, the transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings in the first full year after completion, with anticipated run-rate synergies of €500 million per annum to be fully realized in the third year after completion. One-off costs of €350 million will be required to achieve synergies.

In the United States, the combined company would operate 2,063 stores with sales of roughly $36.9 billion. Barring any store closures, the combined U.S. operations of Ahold and Delhaize would net 825 pharmacy locations.

Ahold USA, which operates U.S. supermarket chains Stop & Shop and Giant, is currently the 14th largest retail pharmacy operation in the U.S. with $2.1 billion in pharmacy sales, according to DSN's Annual PoweRx report, which ranks the leading pharmacy operators in the country. Delhaize America, which operates the Hannaford and Food Lion stores in the eastern United States, ranks No. 31.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, Goos Kant, Ortec board member and retail industry expert, said in a statement that such a merger would be a “clear win/win.” Ortec is a provider of advanced planning and optimization solutions and services.

“Ahold and Delhaize are highly complimentary and a merger would likely generate benefits for both companies,” Kant stated. "Our team conducted a thorough analysis of data from ING, Rabobank and other public sources indicating a merger would be a clear win/win.”

According to Ortec’s analysis, in states where Ahold operates, a person lives at an average distance of 15 miles from one of the company’s stores. On the whole, in all states where Delhaize operates, a person lives at an average distance of 32 miles from a Delhaize establishment. With the merger, a person living in one of these states would live at an average distance of 15 miles from an Ahold or Delhaize store. Together, the companies would cover 109 million people. In other words, more than one-third of the entire U.S.  population would live in states where on average, an Ahold-Delhaize store is located within 15 miles, according to Ortec.

Aside from operating traditional stores, Ahold owns the online grocer Peapod. Peapod works with several Ahold brands in the United States and, following the merger with Delhaize, Peapod would have access to the Delhaize network and potentially 1,300 new pick-up points that have the benefit of being located in less populated areas — a great advantage for an online grocer, Ortec noted.

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Pfizer to acquire meningitis vaccines from GSK for $130M

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Pfizer has entered into an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline to acquire its quadrivalent meningitis ACWY vaccines, Nimenrix and Mencevax, for approximately $130 million.

This transaction will add two complementary vaccines to Pfizer’s portfolio, allowing the company to reach a broader global population.

Nimenrix (meningococcal serogroups A, C, W-135 and Y conjugate vaccine) is a single dose meningococcal ACWY-TT (tetanus toxoid) conjugated vaccine designed to protect against Neisseria meningitidis, an uncommon but highly contagious disease that can lead to disability and death. Launched three years ago, it is indicated for all age groups older than 1 year of age. Nimenrix is currently registered and approved for sale in 61 countries across the European Economic Area (EEA 30), Canada, Australia and Emerging Markets, with registrations under review in another 18 countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Mencevax (meningococcal polysaccharide serogroups A, C, Y and W-135 vaccine) is a single-dose meningococcal ACWY unconjugated polysaccharide vaccine used to control outbreaks of meningococcal infection and for travelers to countries where the disease is endemic or highly epidemic. Mencevax is indicated for use across all age groups from 2 years of age, and is currently registered and approved in 79 countries across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and New Zealand.

“The addition of Nimenrix and Mencevax is an important milestone for Pfizer Vaccines. Adding these two innovative and complementary vaccines to our current portfolio will allow us to more completely respond to meningococcal disease outbreaks as well as proactively address a critical public health need – the prevention of meningococcal disease across all ages,” stated Susan Silbermann, president, Pfizer Vaccines. “Acquiring these quadrivalent vaccines will broaden our ability to address the burden of meningococcal meningitis – an uncommon but serious and sometimes fatal disease. This helps us to further fulfill our vision to protect lives with innovative vaccines to fight serious diseases worldwide and gives us even greater capability to meet the needs of the global community we serve.”

With the approval in 2014 of Trumenba (Meningococcal Group B Vaccine) in the United States for protection against serogroup B meningococcal disease in individuals 10 through 25 years of age, the acquisition of NeisVac-C for protection against serogroup C meningococcal disease from Baxter last year, and the addition of these two quadrivalent meningitis vaccines, the company stated that it is working to create a broad portfolio focused on helping prevent meningococcal disease as well as used for outbreak control.

Pfizer does not expect this transaction to have any significant impact on its 2015 financial performance. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions as well as regulatory approvals in several markets and is expected to occur in the second half of 2015.

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Sam’s Club introduces exclusive daily deals online

BY Antoinette Alexander

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club has developed a new way for members to save. Enter Shocking Values.

The new program offers daily deals at SamsClub.com with up to 60% off regular retail prices. The introduction of Shocking Values makes Sam’s Club the first wholesale retailer to offer an online daily deal program.

Members can find new, limited-time deals every day starting at 9 a.m. CT by visiting www.samsclub.com/shockingvalues and the Sam’s Club mobile app, or they can receive daily e-mail notifications through an opt-in mailing list.

“Our members consider each visit to their neighborhood club and SamsClub.com a treasure hunt for unexpected savings, and Shocking Values is a new extension of that experience,” stated Jamie Iannone, president and CEO of SamsClub.com. “These daily deals increase the value of a Sam’s Club membership and provide savings that members won’t find anywhere else.”

The Shocking Values program features hand-picked brands at low prices. Shocking Values products are chosen based on members’ interests, top trends and popular items from the company’s most popular shopping categories. Members can expect to see a wide range of products including consumer electronics, accessories and watches, kitchen appliances, apparel, home décor, outdoor/garden and more. These deals are for a limited time with limited quantities.

Shocking Values is the latest addition to member exclusives at Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club recently re-launched Club Pickup, another warehouse first that allows members to save time by shopping online and picking up their order in club, and a suite of services ranging from travel to tax preparation to identity theft protection.
 

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