AHOLD FILING FUELS ACQUISITION RUMORS

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here said last week it has filed a shelf offering of up to $1.25 billion in debt securities and common stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission -- a move some observers believe is a preliminary step to making another major U.S. acquisition.ng means a purchase is imminent. "We have already taken Step A. This way, things will go quicker if we decide to take Steps

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here said last week it has filed a shelf offering of up to $1.25 billion in debt securities and common stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission -- a move some observers believe is a preliminary step to making another major U.S. acquisition.

ng means a purchase is imminent. "We have already taken Step A. This way, things will go quicker if we decide to take Steps B and C," he said.

"Any strong growth company makes such provisions. [Shelf offerings are] meant to be used when the possibilities present themselves."

Ahold said previously that any acquisition candidate must have sound management and good growth possibilities, with a focus on quality and the customer and the potential to lead its regional market.

The company has indicated its longstanding goal is to become the biggest supermarket operator in the world during the next five to 10 years. It is reportedly in the Top 5 globally, with major holdings in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America and annual sales last year of nearly $21 million (U.S.).