Panda, Giant Stores to merge

Saudi food group Savola has signed agreement to combine supermarket chains, chief executive says.

Saudi food group Savola said it agreed to combine its Al Azizia Panda Company chain of supermarkets with Saudi Arabia's The Giant Stores Company, which is owned by the Abdul Kadir Al-Muhaidib & Sons Group.

"We have signed an MoU to merge Azizia Panda with Giant Stores," Savola Chief Executive Sami Baroum told newswire Reuters in Jeddah on Sunday, on the sidelines of an investment conference.

Savola will own 80% of the venture and The Giant Stores the remainder, Baroum said. Combined, the units will have sales of about 5 billion riyals ($1.33 billion) per year, Baroum said.

Set up in 1990, Giant Stores has 20 outlets across the kingdom and had planned to add 20 more, according to the website of the Al-Muhaidib group. It also has interests in Lebanon, Qatar and Bahrain, the company says.

Al Azizia operates a chain of almost 60 supermarkets and hypermarkets in the kingdom, and is expanding overseas, according to its website. By the end 2010, it plans to have 120 stores to treble its sales. (Reuters)

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