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In South Africa, Business Day reports that Pick n Pay's negotiations with Ahold, which would have had the Dutch company acquiring the retail company founded by Raymond Ackerman in 1967, appear to have fallen apart over price.

The story says that while Pick n Pay's chairman, Gareth Ackerman, continues to maintain that there are no negotiations and no plans to sell the company, sources tell the paper that Ahold "has been conducting a due diligence for about three months with the intention of doing some sort of deal with Pick n Pay."

Business Day also reports that "though it still has a prominent brand, Pick n Pay has been losing market share to rival Shoprite and has been without a CEO since February, when Nick Badminton resigned." In addition, Walmart has bought it way into the South African market, upping the competitive ante there.

And, the paper says, analysts say that the company is "particularly vulnerable," as one analyst says, "They don't have a CEO, they don't have an international partner, they don't have a strong balance sheet and they don't have a good strategy."
KC's View:
I've gotten numerous emails from insiders in South Africa telling me that negotiations to acquire all or part of Pick n Pay indeed have taken place ... so it is important to take Gareth Ackerman's denials with a grain of salt. (Denying that negotiations are taking place often is SOP in companies up until the moment that a deal is signed.)

While the time may have passed for Pick n Pay to remain an independent, family-controlled company, it is important to remember exactly how important this retailer has been in South Africa's evolution. I've been to South Africa, I've seen Pick n Pay's stores in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and I've interviewed Raymond Ackerman, who was hiring black employees and managers for his stores even while apartheid was the government's official policy. Raymond Ackerman stood up for human rights in South Africa at a time when it was not politically popular or even commercially advisable to do so.