Ahold/Delhaize merger cleared in Europe

Following a referral from the European Commission, the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has cleared the merger of Belgian and Dutch supermarket operators Delhaize and Royal Ahold, under the condition that the parties divest 8 Ahold stores and 5 Delhaize franchised stores (plus some future projects). CRA was retained by both Ahold and Delhaize to advise on the transaction. During the proceedings in front of the European Commission and the Belgian Competition Authority, we effectively supported the parties by producing and submitting several economic reports analyzing local competition between the parties and their competitors, based on disaggregated sales, price and loyalty card data and on econometric analysis of the impact of Ahold’s recent entry. Thanks to this data and analysis, the BCA was able to take into account the actual attractiveness of each store in its assessment, using isochrones representing 80% of sales for each specific stores. Further, our econometric analysis was key to confirm that competition took place locally while identifying the distance threshold at which the competitive pressure between two given stores faded away.

In the US, CRA advised counsel to Ahold and Delhaize on areas of overlap where the two firms operate US grocery chains such as Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, and Giant. The FTC approved the merger subject to some geographical divestitures.