International News - Ahold horror story continues

More bad news may follow Ahold's shock warning of a massive shortfall in profits at its US Foodservice division.

Ahold admitted last week that last year's profits will be EUR 500 million (£343.1 million) lower than previously anticipated. But, according to analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, further accounting problems may emerge following internal and external investigations, including by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

'Survival relies on drastic cash flow action, a forced disposal programme and the continuing goodwill of other stakeholders.

Further accounting problems may emerge and trading may deteriorate,' said the analysts in a note to investors. 'Investigation may uncover further profit discrepancies in other divisions.'

The SEC and the Attorney's Office in Manhattan are looking at whether Ahold's US Foodservice business inflated rebates it expected to receive from suppliers. Ahold has already put two senior Foodservice executives on leave.

Two investigations are also under way in the Netherlands by the securities regulator, the Authority for Financial Markets, and the bourse authority Euronext Amsterdam.

Sobi, the independent Dutch corporate watchdog, contacted the public prosecutor in Holland with allegations of illegal activities in Ahold's Argentinian division.

Sobi said it suspects former Ahold chief executive Cees van der Hoeven - who was ousted last week along with finance director Michael Meurs - may have been involved in these activities.

Ahold is the world's third-biggest retailer, and operates across Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia.

- See Analysis: page 10.