FINANCE

Ahold 4Q Net More Than Doubles

BY CSA STAFF

Netherlands, Dutch retailer Ahold NV beat market forecasts on Thursday as it more than doubled fourth-quarter net profit and said it would buy back more shares, suggesting it expects a good price for a U.S. unit. Profit rose to 240 million euros ($319 million) from 108 million euros a year ago.

Ahold said it planned to increase its share buyback to 3 billion euros from 2 billion, raising hopes it will get a higher-than-expected price for its catering-supplies unit, U.S. Foodservice, which it put up for sale last November. Asked whether the higher buyback was linked to optimism about the U.S. Foodservice sale, CFO John Rishton said: “Clearly we have more information than we had.”

He said the sale process was progressing well but declined to provide more details.

Ahold is selling U.S. Foodservice, which sources say has attracted bids from several private equity groups and could receive more than $6 billion.

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SUPPLY CHAIN

IKEA Plans Midwestern DC

BY CSA STAFF

Conshohocken, Pa., IKEA said it plans to open an approximately 1.4 million-sq.-ft. distribution center on 72 acres at the Laraway Crossings Business Park in Joliet, Ill., south of Chicago. The new center will allow IKEA to receive goods in Joliet by rail, to manage its inventory and to distribute product to stores throughout North America, with a focus on IKEA stores in the Midwest.

The project will consist of a 650,000 sq.-ft. facility to be operational as early as spring 2009. The plans also allow for a potential expansion of approximately 770,000 more sq. ft. should the storage capacity be necessary.

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FINANCE

TJX Sued by Big Shareholder Over Records Debacle

BY CSA STAFF

Wilmington, Del., Arkansas Carpenters Pension Fund, which owns 4,500 shares of TJX stock, filed a lawsuit Monday to obtain records showing how the retail chain handled computer problems that exposed customer data to hackers.

The shareholder said it initiated the suit after its request to see relevant documents was rebuffed by the company. The suit was filed under a law that allows shareholders to sue to get access to corporate documents for certain purposes.

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