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Ahold’s internal investigation into the accounting problems that led to a $500 million overstatement of profits at its US Foodservice division is on no fixed deadline, according to a report from Reuters.

“The focus is on accuracy rather than speed,” according to a spokesman for the company. “They want to make absolutely sure that they get it right.”

Also investigating the company are regulators in both the US and the Netherlands, looking into the way the company accounted for vending allowances.

A Uruguayan court is expected to subpoena former Ahold CEO Cees van der Hoeven and former CFO Michiel Meurs to testify in a bank fraud case.

In addition to waiting for the results of its internal investigation, Ahold’s board reportedly is going ahead with its plans to divest non-core businesses, especially now that it is faced with debt in excess of $13 billion (US). Among the companies said to be interested in acquiring some of Ahold’s assets, should the right ones become available, are Carrefour and Casino.

In other Ahold news, Roberto Britto, formerly vice-president of operations for Ahold-controlled BomPreco in Brazil, was named CEO of the company. However, analysts said that it appeared to be a simple promotion and not related to the company’s accounting scandals.
KC's View:
There are reports that Ahold’s US Foodservice division is facing defections of some of its customers as publicity about its economic problems becomes more pronounced. This probably accounts for why the company’s president, Jim Miller, came out last week with the patently absurd letter to customers saying that the US Foodservice issues weren’t related to the troubles that forced out van der Hoeven and Meurs…a letter quickly disavowed by the Ahold board.

And, The Financial Times reported this week that analysts are wondering why Miller hasn’t suffered the same fate as van der Hoeven and Meurs, especially since so much of the company’s problems occurred on his watch.

We continue to think that Miller’s time at US Foodservice is winding down. The only question is whether he goes down in flames, or leaves quietly of his own accord.