Weeks after the collapse of US web grocers Webvan and HomeRuns.com, Ahold has moved to gain full control of its US online subsidiary Peapod. Ahold saved Peapod from financial ruin last April and has since been consolidating its operations to focus on markets where Ahold USA has stores, pulling out of Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and San Francisco. Currently, Peapod delivers to Chicago, Boston, Connecticut, Washington DC, and Long Island, NY. Ahold has a 58% stake in Peapod and plans to launch a tender offer for the outstanding shares in a $35m deal to make way for a full merger of the company with its US division. At $2.15 a share, the purchase price represents a hefty premium on Peapod's share price, which was languishing at $1.25. The deal is expected to go through in the autumn. Ahold chief financial officer Michiel Meurs said: "Strategically, we are convinced that the web based grocery business combined with our store network under strong local brands will prove to be a powerful concept to attract and retain loyal customers." Peapod's sales for 2000 topped $90m but it is still chalking up heavy losses. {{NEWS }}