French retailer Casino has reached agreements with Auchan Retail and Intermarché parent company Groupement Les Mousquetaires on the sale of 'almost all' of its hypermarkets and supermarkets.
Casino added that these agreements provide for the sale of 288 stores (and the service stations attached to these stores), based on an enterprise value of between €1.3 billion and €1.35 billion ($1.42 billion to 1.47 billion).
The disposals will take place in the second quarter of 2024, after consultation with unions, the company said.
Casino also said Groupement Les Mousquetaires and Auchan have undertaken to take over the employment contracts of staff assigned to the transferred stores and service stations, and to maintain existing labour agreements for 15 months.
Les Mousquetaires (LM) and Auchan said in a joint statement that LM would take over 190 stores and Auchan 98 stores. They added that the operation would safeguard 12,000 jobs in the stores and would be finalised in the coming months.
Thierry Cotillard, president of Groupement Les Mousquetaires and Yves Claude, chairperson and CEO of Auchan Retail, stated, “This operation marks a strategic shift in the distribution sector in France and for our companies.
“The relaunch of stores will make it possible to offer consumers modernised points of sale with quality products at more attractive prices, an action reinforced by the purchasing alliance currently being formed between our two companies.”
In a separate statement, retailer Carrefour said it had started exclusive negotiations with Groupe Intermarché to acquire 31 stores which generated sales of around 400 million euros in 2022. It gave no detail on the price.
It added it had also committed to maintain all employees working in the stores and their social benefits for a minimum period of 15 months.
The restructuring of the debt-ridden French retailer by a consortium led by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky will massively dilute current shareholders and will end the 30-year reign of Jean-Charles Naouri, who controls Casino through his listed holding company Rallye.
Kretinsky's consortium will own and control 53.7% of Casino's share capital under the deal, which calls for €1.2 billion of new money to be injected into Casino, as well as a €6.1 billion reduction of Casino's debt.
Casino stock was suspended ahead of the statement. It closed at €0.6 on Tuesday (23 January), following a years-long slide that took it down from around €23 at the end of 2021 and €96 per share mid-2014. It traded as high as €114 at the end of 1999.
News by Reuters, additional reporting by ESM.