NEWS WATCH: HOUSE PASSES PERMANENT ESTATE TAX REPEAL...BI-LO SALE ACCOUNTING REDUCES LOSS FOR AHOLD...ALBERTSONS WORKERS TO VOTE ON COLORADO PACT...

HOUSE PASSES PERMANENT ESTATE TAX REPEALatives voted 272-162 to permanently repeal the estate tax last week, a move supported by the industry because of the burden retailers say the tax places on owners of family-owned business seeking to pass their companies on to the next generation. The elimination of the tax "is extremely important to family businesses, who are forced to operate now in a fiscal-planning

HOUSE PASSES PERMANENT ESTATE TAX REPEAL

atives voted 272-162 to permanently repeal the estate tax last week, a move supported by the industry because of the burden retailers say the tax places on owners of family-owned business seeking to pass their companies on to the next generation. The elimination of the tax "is extremely important to family businesses, who are forced to operate now in a fiscal-planning twilight zone -- uncertain whether the tax will be reinstated in 2011 or merely reformed," said John J. Motley III, senior vice president, Food Marketing Institute. The bill now goes before the Senate, where the outlook is uncertain, according to reports.

BI-LO SALE ACCOUNTING REDUCES LOSS FOR AHOLD

AMSTERDAM -- An accounting change related to the sale of the Bi-Lo and Bruno's chains resulted in a downward adjustment of around $9 million to Ahold's yearly loss, the company said last week. The company in March reported a yearly loss of 443 million euros (about $572 million), but in its annual report last week, the company said the loss would be 438 million euros (or $565.5 million). Ahold had announced the sale of Bi-Lo and Bruno's to Lone Star Funds late last year for $560 million, but some aspects of the transaction, including how much debt Lone Star would assume, were not made public.

ALBERTSONS WORKERS TO VOTE ON COLORADO PACT

DENVER -- Around 1,950 workers at Albertsons stores in Colorado and Wyoming will vote on a tentative contract with the Boise, Idaho-based retailer, a union spokesman told SN. Separately, the union recommended that the 200 workers at Albertsons' Max Foods and Grocery Warehouse stores reject the deal, the spokesman said. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 and Albertsons arrived at a contract said to be similar to those reached earlier this year by workers at King Soopers and City Market (Kroger) and Safeway. Results of the votes will be revealed April 30 for Albertsons stores, and May 6 for Max Foods and Grocery Warehouse stores.

UNION AUTHORIZES STRIKE IN N.J. AS DEADLINE NEARS

CLIFTON, N.J. -- The union representing 28,000 workers at ShopRite, Foodtown, Pathmark and Stop & Shop chains in New Jersey and New York had negotiations scheduled late last week in hopes of agreeing to a new contract. The four-year contract between the chains and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1262 was set to expire at midnight Saturday, a union spokeswoman told SN. Last week, union workers in special meetings at two locations rejected the employers' latest offer and voted to authorize a strike. Results of votes scheduled at two additional locations late last week were unavailable.

IDAHO GOVERNOR SIGNS 'ALBERTSONS BILL' INTO LAW

BOISE, Idaho -- Gov. Dirk Kempthorne here last week signed into law a measure to give tax incentives to companies relocating to or remaining in the state. The Corporate Tax Incentive Bill was known as the "Albertsons Bill" because some said it was designed to keep Albertsons and other large employers from leaving the state. The bill would allow companies like Albertsons to receive tax breaks based upon meeting various job-growth and wage targets.

FAMILY ASKS SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW DEMOULAS CASE

TEWKSBURY, Mass. -- The losers of a court decision that transferred ownership of the Demoulas/Market Basket chain here from descendants of one co-founder to descendants of his co-founding brother have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision, according to a published report. Frances D. Kettenbach, daughter of co-founder Mike Demoulas, whose heirs lost control of the chain when a judge ruled Mike Demoulas had defrauded his brother George, petitioned the court to review the case on the basis that its judge was biased, reports said. A Demoulas spokesman was not available for comment.