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Reuters reports this morning that Royal Ahold has named Anders Moberg, the former CEO of Ikea and chief of international affairs for Home Depot, to be the company's new president and CEO.

He takes the job vacated by Cees van der Hoeven, who was forced to resign back in February after an accounting scandal hit the fan, revealing a $500 million overstatement of profits in the company's US Foodservice division.

Moberg starts work on Monday, though only as acting CEO; his appointment must be approved by shareholders at an annual meeting scheduled for May 13.

"Anders Moberg has spent his entire career working for two of the world's most successful retailers. Strongly focused on customers' needs and product innovation, he is a true internationalist, decidedly exceptional in his ability to put retail into a global context," Ahold chairman Henny de Ruiter said in a statement.

In other Ahold news...

Ahold Sells Malaysia Unit To Dairy Farm
Ahold announced this morning that it will sell its 34-store Tops division in Malaysia to Dairy Farm International, part of an effort to reduce its debt of more than $12 billion (US).

This follows previously announced plans to sell off assets in South America and Indonesia.

Terms of the Malaysian deal were not announced. It is expected to be completed during the third quarter of this year.

Dairy Farm, the $34 billion Hong Kong-based retailer, said an a statement the Tops supermarkets will be re-branded under its Giant and Cold Storage banners, and will expand its Malaysian contingent of stores to 47.
KC's View:
Moberg walks into a company that is somewhat smaller than the one his predecessor left behind, but he remains faced with a mountain of debt, questions about the company's ethical compass, and decisions to make about Ahold's future.

He will have to decide what to do about the US Foodservice division, where there seems to have been a remarkable lack of accountability to this point for some fairly egregious errors in judgment. (We still don't understand -- nor has Ahold explained to anyone's satisfaction -- how van der Hoeven lost his job over the half-billion dollar overstatement of profits, but the top guy as US Foodservice keeps his.)

There are investigations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic into how Ahold has conducted its affairs, probes that could hurt the company's reputation even more than it already has been damaged. It will be these investigations, we suspect, that will help decide Ahold's future shape as a company. Will it continue to divest divisions, leaving it just a shell of its former self? Or is there the possibility that the whole company will be sold, as has been rumored over recent weeks?

Tough decisions, made even more difficult by the glare of the spotlight that will be on Moberg and Ahold.

We believe, however, that if Ahold chairman Henny de Ruiter was sincere in his statement that Moberg is "strongly focused on customers' needs and product innovation," that this will be the company's best asset in a time of strife.