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Royal Ahold: A Failure Of Corporate Governance

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Royal Ahold (Koninklijke Ahold NV) was one of the major success stories in the 1990sand is one of the major failures in corporate governance, suffering a complete meltdownin 2003. This clinical study analyzes Ahold’s growth strategy through acquisitions andisolates the cause of the failed strategy, i.e. the absence of internal as well as externaloversight of management’s strategy. This study details the consequences of the strategy:bad acquisitions, an accounting scandal and the loss of investor confidence. It illustrateshow initially a family and later professional management exploited the intent of the lawand existing regulatory structures to maintain absolute control of the company. Itanalyzes in detail the applicable governance mechanisms of Ahold that were designed tohold the self-interest of the parties in check. It asks the reader to consider whether thesegovernance mechanisms, properly implemented, might have helped prevent Ahold or asituation similar to Ahold.

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