Moberg to take role in Middle East

Anders Moberg, who ten days ago announced his early retirement as chief executive of Ahold, the Dutch retail food company, is to be appointed chief executive of a Middle Eastern shopping mall developer.

The Swedish former chief executive of Ikea, the home furnishing group, is to join Majid Al Futtaim Group, a group developing and managing shopping centres and hypermarkets in the Middle East and North Africa, the Dubai-based company said yesterday.

Mr Moberg’s resignation from Ahold, whose recovery he led for four years after a near €1bn accounting scandal in early 2003, prompted speculation about the company’s plans. He cut short a contract that ran until May 2008 in order to “pursue other career interests”, the company said.

At last week’s Ahold annual meeting Mr Moberg said there had been no disagreement over strategy. René Dahan, Ahold chairman, said Mr Moberg’s departure did not indicate the company would change course.

However his decision re-sparked talk among analysts of a merger between Ahold and Delhaize, a Belgian food retailer, with complementary supermarket operations in Europe and the US, or a private equity sale.

Last week Ahold announced the sale to private equity companies for $7.1bn of US Foodservice, the distribution unit that had been at the centre of the accounting scandal, a move that potentially eases the path to a merger.

John Rishton, chief financial officer, will replace Mr Moberg as Ahold CEO on an interim basis.

Majid Al Futtaim, named after its founder and president and founded in 1992, is based in the United Arab Emirates and operates malls in a number of locations including Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Lebanon. Mr Moberg succeeds Francois de Montaudouin as chief executive on July 1.

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