DUTCH COURT LAUNCHES AHOLD INQUIRY

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold last week said the Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has ordered an inquiry into Ahold's activities at the request of a Dutch shareholder group.other shareholders.Ahold said the inquiry is limited to the consolidation of joint ventures, Ahold's acquisition of its subsidiary U.S. Foodservice, and Ahold's supervision of internal controls of its subsidiaries,

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold last week said the Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has ordered an inquiry into Ahold's activities at the request of a Dutch shareholder group.

other shareholders.

Ahold said the inquiry is limited to the consolidation of joint ventures, Ahold's acquisition of its subsidiary U.S. Foodservice, and Ahold's supervision of internal controls of its subsidiaries, including U.S. Foodservice. The Enterprise Chamber rejected all of the shareholders' other requests for inquiry, including challenges of policies implemented after Feb. 24, 2003, when the company first unveiled the massive accounting scandal centered around U.S. Foodservice.

Two other investigations into the company recently have ended. The company reached a settlement in September with the Dutch Public Prosecutions Department for about $10 million, and settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission soon afterward without paying a penalty.

The company said the subject of the current inquiry is not to seek damages.

"Ahold will attempt to ensure that the inquiry will be concluded as soon as possible in the interest of its shareholders and other stakeholders," said Peter Wakkie, chief corporate governance counsel.

Separately, a U.S. District Court judge in Baltimore has dismissed claims against Deloitte & Touche in the United States and the Netherlands made by Ahold shareholders who had alleged the auditor was negligent in its oversight of Ahold's accounting.

"The judge found that the plaintiffs failed to allege facts sufficient to show that the firms had actual knowledge of the misleading information, or that the firms deliberately ignored signs that might lead them to uncover such information," Deloitte said in a prepared statement.

According to reports, the judge also dismissed shareholder claims against Henny de Ruiter, former chairman of Ahold's supervisory board, and former board members Cor Boonstra and Roland Fahlin.