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European grocery giants with U.S. stores announce merger

Dutch retailer Royal Ahold, which operates U.S. supermarket chains Stop & Shop and Giant, has agreed to merge with its Belgian counterpart Delhaize Group, in a deal that creates a $29 billion company that will serve more than 50 million customers a week.

The all-shares merger, which will lead to the formation of a single company called Ahold Delhaize with more than 6,500 stores, is expected to be completed in mid-2016, subject to regulators' and shareholder approval, the companies said Wednesday.

Based on the companies' market values on Wednesday, the new company would be worth about $29 billion.

Delhaize, which owns supermarkets throughout Belgium, also operates the Hannaford and Food Lion stores in the eastern United States. As well as its U.S. stores, Ahold owns the Albert Heijn chain of supermarkets, which has more than 850 stores in the Netherlands and 25 in Belgium.

Delhaize shareholders will receive 4.75 Ahold shares for each Delhaize share. Ahold shareholders will own around 61% of the new company and Delhaize shareholders the rest.

The two retailers had combined sales last year of $60.6 billion. Ahold Chief Executive Dick Boer will become CEO of the merged company, while Delhaize CEO Frans Muller will be his deputy

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