French billionaire Bernard Arnault has sold his stake in supermarket group Carrefour, the retailer he first invested in 14 years ago.
Luxury goods tycoon Arnault held a 5.7% stake via his Financiere Agache holding company, which raised €724 million by selling shares on the market in an accelerated bookbuilding process, bookrunner Societe Generale said.
The Agache stake was sold at €16 per share, after Arnault, alongside Colony Capital and Axon Capital first took a 9.8% holding in 2007 at an average price of 47 euros per share.
"Agache has backed the Carrefour Group reliably for the past 14 years," Alexandre Bompard, Carrefour chairman and CEO said in a statement.
"Since my arrival, I have benefited from the trust and unwavering support of Bernard Arnault at every stage of the Group's transformation. I thank him very much”.
Carrefour has been through several transformations in recent years, with shareholders benefiting as it spun-off businesses, including its DIA supermaket chain. Arnault was one of its three big shareholders, along with the Moulin family and Brazilian businessman Abilio dos Santos Diniz.
The company in May renewed Bompard's mandate, with the CEO having spearheaded a turnaround plan involving cost cuts and an e-commerce push to boost sales and profits, for another three years.
Arnault, France's richest man, was supportive of Bompard in January when the executive was in talks with Canada's Couche-Tard about a takeover deal, sources said at the time. Couche-Tard eventually dropped its bid of nearly $20 billion for Carrefour after it ran into opposition from the French government.
Bompard has since carried out the acquisition of Grupo BIG, valued at around $1.3 billion, and asserted Carrefour was viable on its own.
Agache is focused on investments in fashion and luxury, and took a stake in sandal maker Birkenstock in February. The vehicle had already begun to sell down part of its Carrefour stake in September 2020.