Supermarket chain Delhaize has apparently taken the first step in the merger talks with Ahold. Increasing competition from discount chains Aldi and Lidl, alongside increased pressure on the margins, have forced Delhaize's hand.
Merger between equals
A merger would give Delhaize a huge boost online: the chain may have its own online supermarket, but Ahold is miles ahead in that regard, especially ever since it took over bol.com.
Delhaize's CEO Frans Muller wanted to initiate the talks as soon as possible as both companies can still be considered equals more or less. "Delaying talks for another year or two could undermine the Belgian company's bargaining position if it had published disappointing results in the meantime", Dutch paper De Telegraaf said.
A merger would be a better fit for both companies, better than an acquisition at least. Ahold would not be required to pay a hefty sum to Delhaize's shareholders, while Delhaize's labour unions would accept a merger more readily than an acquisition.
Both companies still deny they are in merger talks, claiming it are merely "preliminary" talks. Previous merger talks, in 2007 and 2012, eventually fell through.