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Ahold buys majority stake in online grocer FreshDirect

PRESS RELEASE: New York City and Zaandam, the Netherlands – November 18th, 2020 – Ahold Delhaize BB #:130192 and Centerbridge Partners today announce they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire FreshDirect BB #:164151, an online grocer based in New York City. Ahold Delhaize will acquire the majority share, funded by cash on hand, and Centerbridge Partners will be a minority equity investor with a 20% stake. After the deal closes, FreshDirect will retain its brand name, report to a seven-person board, and continue to independently operate out of its facility in New York City. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, following the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory clearance.

Frans Muller, Ahold Delhaize’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “FreshDirect is a leading local brand in the fast-growing online grocery sector in the New York City metro area, one of the most important ecommerce food markets in the United States.  With its unparalleled quality of fresh food, exceptional brand recognition, and dedicated people, it has generated remarkable customer loyalty. This acquisition further propels our omni-channel evolution. It is a great addition and fit for our portfolio of leading local brands. The deal allows us to reach additional customers in the New York trade area and therefore will add incremental sales to the business. It further enables us to address customers’ growing preference for convenient ways to shop. Finally, we are excited to have Centerbridge alongside of us in this venture and believe our combined focus, expertise, and scale will help us maximize the success of FreshDirect going forward.”

FreshDirect is a leader in the US online grocery sector, with more than 20 years of local market and customer experience. As the name implies, the company focuses on fresh food, which represents more than 60% of its sales. It differentiates itself with direct and exclusive relationships with local farmers coupled with unique meal solution capabilities. The company’s efficient supply chain enables faster and more direct delivery of fresh food than most other conventional grocery services, providing a further enhanced freshness experience to customers. FreshDirect also brings with it a highly scalable and state-of-the-art fulfillment center, located in the Bronx, New York City. Finally, its ecommerce platform enables customer ordering, from picking through packing, to last mile delivery, including the ability to provide same day and rush delivery.

David McInerney, FreshDirect’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are strong believers that the future of grocery retail involves getting customers the best quality food, exactly when they want it, with the best customer service. We have built FreshDirect into a reliable and recognizable business to serve this purpose. This transaction marks an important milestone in the continued growth of FreshDirect. I believe Ahold Delhaize’s global scale, focus on strong, leading local brands, and ability to utilize cost-of-goods synergies, will allow FreshDirect to achieve its full potential.”

Adam Burinescu, Senior Managing Director at Centerbridge, said, “We are excited to partner with Ahold Delhaize, a leading player in global food retail and believe this is an outstanding combination. As a partner, we believe that Centerbridge brings deep experience in the interplay between logistics facilities and e-commerce fulfillment that can assist FreshDirect in reaching its next level of growth.”

BofA Securities, Inc. is acting as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is acting as legal advisor to Ahold Delhaize. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC is acting as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is acting as legal advisor to FreshDirect. Fried Frank is acting as legal advisor to Centerbridge.

Cautionary Notice

This communication includes forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical facts may be forward-looking statements. Words and expressions such as definitive, will, leading, fast-growing, view, next step, further, enables, reach, expect(ed), continue(d), evolve, plan, remain, shift, believe, focus, going forward, capabilities, enhanced, experience, ability, believers, future, expansive, growth, achieve, full potential, next stage, after, 2021, following, conditions or other similar words or expressions are typically used to identify forward-looking statements.

Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that are difficult to predict and that may cause actual results of Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize N.V. (the “Company”) to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the risk factors set forth in the Company’s public filings and other disclosures. Forward-looking statements reflect the current views of the Company’s management and assumptions based on information currently available to the Company’s management. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made and the Company does not assume any obligation to update such statements, except as required by law.

 

About Ahold Delhaize
Ahold Delhaize is one of the world’s largest food retail groups and a leader in both supermarkets and e-Commerce. Its family of great, local brands serves 54 million customers each week in Europe, the United States, and Indonesia. Together, these brands employ more than 380,000 associates in 6,967 grocery and specialty stores and include the top online retailer in the Benelux and the leading online grocers in the Benelux and the United States. Ahold Delhaize brands are at the forefront of sustainable retailing, sourcing responsibly, supporting local communities and helping customers make healthier choices. Headquartered in Zaandam, the Netherlands, Ahold Delhaize is listed on the Euronext Amsterdam and Brussels stock exchanges (ticker: AD) and its American Depositary Receipts are traded on the over-the-counter market in the U.S. and quoted on the OTCQX International marketplace (ticker: ADRNY). For more information, please visit www.aholddelhaize.com.

About FreshDirect
FreshDirect is a leading online fresh food grocer, delivering directly to customers throughout seven states, including the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, and the District of Columbia. FreshDirect is committed to sourcing the freshest and best-tasting meat, fish, produce, and specialty items through direct relationships with suppliers, growers, and farmers. Launched in 2002, FreshDirect is a privately held company headquartered in The Bronx, NY. Principal long-term investors in FreshDirect include Brightwood Capital Advisors, Maverick Capital and W Capital Partners. For more information, visit www.freshdirect.com.

About Centerbridge Partners
Centerbridge Partners, L.P. is a private investment management firm employing a flexible approach across investment disciplines—from private equity to credit and related strategies, and real estate—in an effort to find the most attractive opportunities for our investors and business partners. The Firm was founded in 2005 and as of June 30, 2020 has approximately $26 billion in capital under management with offices in New York and London. Centerbridge is dedicated to partnering with world-class management teams across targeted industry sectors and geographies to help companies achieve their operating and financial objectives. For more information, please visit www.centerbridge.com.