Ahold Delhaize Considers IPO for Dutch Online Unit Bol.com
(Bloomberg) -- Stop & Shop owner Royal Ahold Delhaize NV said it’s considering an initial public offering for Dutch online retail unit Bol.com as the pandemic-fueled boom in e-commerce attracts investors’ interest.
Bol.com aims to double its business by 2025 and keep its market-leading position in the Netherlands, where it’s bigger than Amazon.com Inc., Ahold Chief Executive Officer Frans Muller told reporters Monday. He said the company would offer a small stake and plans to keep control of the business. The transaction would take place in the second half of 2022. Ahold shares rose as much as 4.2% in Amsterdam.
Ahold said the deal would provide funding for the grocer’s growth, and Bol.com would keep working with its brands in the Benelux region. The company also said it plans to buy back 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) worth of shares ahead of a presentation with investors.
Online sales have benefited as more consumers developed the habit of purchasing via e-commerce during the pandemic. French grocer Carrefour SA announced a plan last week to invest 3 billion euros in its digital growth as it aims to triple the value of products it sells online by 2026.
Bol.com’s sales should reach 5.5 billion euros this year and Ahold forecast earnings for the unit of 150 million euros to 170 million euros before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
Last week, Ahold raised its earnings forecast for the second time this year as the grocer offsets pandemic-related cost pressures with savings. Underlying earnings per share are now expected to grow in the low-to mid-20s percentage range when compared with 2019.
Ahold bought Bol.com in 2012 for 350 million euros. The website was founded in 1999 as Europe’s first online bookstore. Now it’s the largest online retail platform in the Benelux region and has expanded to general merchandise products.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.