Ahold and Delhaize Group have announced that they have received approval from the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) for their intended merger, an important milestone in the process to completion.
The BCA's approval is conditional upon the divestment of a limited number of stores in Belgium to address competition concerns raised by the regulator.
These divestments will include 13 existing stores in total, and consist of eight Albert Heijn stores and five Delhaize franchised stores.
In addition, a limited number of future Ahold and Delhaize projects will also need to be divested.
No stores will be closed as a result of these remedies, while the current labour and working conditions of the associates will be respected according to Belgian labour regulations, the groups confirmed.
The stores involved will have to be transferred to a buyer with the financial means and proven expertise to maintain them as viable and active competitors for Ahold Delhaize and other companies, the BCA stated.
Until all requirements imposed by the BCA are met, Albert Heijn and Delhaize stores in Belgium will continue to operate separately.
Earlier this week, shareholders of both companies approved the combination, with the transaction expected to be completed in mid-2016. The merger clearance from the BCA completes the competition approval in Europe.