AMSTERDAM - Dutch grocer Super de Boer said on Monday the competition authority had approved its sale to rival Jumbo, and Chief Executive Jan Brouwer, who helped lead the company back to profitability, would resign.
Super de Boer, formerly called Laurus and majority owned by French peer Casino, had agreed in October to a 552.5 million euro ($822 million) offer from unlisted Jumbo, which had trumped an approach from Sperwer, another Dutch grocer.
Super de Boer said the Dutch competition authority NMa had approved the deal, which is now expected to close on Dec. 18. Jumbo said it would need to sell one store to a rival supermarket to meet NMa's conditions.
As part of the deal, Jumbo had already agreed to sell 80 Super De Boer stores to rival Schuitema which owns C1000, the second-largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands.
Super de Boer also said Chief Executive Jan Brouwer intended to resign upon completion of the deal, but would remain available for Super de Boer until March 31.
I look back very positively on the last few years. Super de Boer is on track. We are healthy and profitable, Brouwer told Reuters in an interview. My mission is accomplished.
Jumbo, which is currently led by Frits van Eerd, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
After a bruising price war in the Netherlands won by Ahold's Albert Heijn chain, Super de Boer completed a key restructuring in 2007 by selling lossmaking stores and streamlining its distribution and logistics facilities.
Under Brouwer's leadership, the company returned to profitability in 2007 after a 45 million euro loss in 2006.
Brouwer said the integration of Super de Boer's head office, logistics network and stores into Jumbo would take about three years to complete.
He added that synergies would be obtained both via logistics and improved sales due to the combined group's improved purchasing strength, but did not give a target.
Analysts say the deal could prompt a wave of consolidation and price competition in the Dutch supermarket sector, where smaller firms have struggled for years with Ahold's dominance.
Super de Boer will hold an extraordinary shareholders meeting on Tuesday for investors to vote on the proposed Jumbo deal. Work councils at both Jumbo and Super de Boer have reacted positively to the tie-up. (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Karen Foster and Rupert Winchester) ($1 = 0.6720 euro)