Alfa-Beta shares soar on Delhaize news

Belgian supermarket group Delhaize announced plans yesterday to buy the remaining 34.7 percent of Greece’s Alfa-Beta supermarkets, driving the Greek subsidiary’s shares more than 20 percent higher. Delhaize, which became Alfa-Beta’s principal shareholder in 1992, said it would offer 30.50 euros per share, implying an overall price of about 135 million euros, through its unit Delhaize «The Lion» Nederland (Delned). Alfa-Beta shares shot up 22.04 percent to 30.51 euros, their highest level since late November, versus a 1.17 percent rise on the broader Greek market. «The offer includes an attractive cash premium for the minority shareholders of Alfa-Beta for a stock with very limited traded volume,» Delhaize CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers said in a statement. «Following the tender offer, Delhaize Group intends to operate Alfa-Beta with no major changes to its current business model or strategy,» he continued. Brokers said the deal offers Delhaize further growth opportunities. «The timing is also advantageous as AB’s share price has come down sharply over the last couple of years,» Pascale Weber, an analyst at KBC Securities NV in Brussels, wrote in a note today, Bloomberg reported. Alfa-Beta, which was operating 199 stores in Greece at the end of March, is among Delhaize’s fastest-growing units with sales growth exceeding 10 percent for 12 consecutive quarters.

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