Czech Tycoon Kretinsky Leads Rescue Plan For Retailer Casino

By Reuters
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Czech Tycoon Kretinsky Leads Rescue Plan For Retailer Casino

Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is leading a €1.35 billion investment plan to rescue Groupe Casino, the French retailer has said, dwarfing a rival proposal backed by telecoms maverick Xavier Niel.

The proposed cash injection satisfies, on paper, Casino's self-imposed objective of bringing in €900 million in new equity, as the firm, home to the Monoprix and Franprix chains, strives to shore up its balance sheet, saddled by an unsustainable €6.4 billion debt.

But it is only the first step of Casino's wide-ranging restructuring plan, which it said needed to be ironed out by the end of July and would require a deal with debt holders within a court-led process overseen by the French finance ministry.

Competing Offers

Details of the competing offers to inject fresh equity into Casino, under which veteran entrepreneur Jean-Charles Naouri would lose control of the company, were disclosed after the market close and followed a tumultuous early trading session leading to a suspension of Casino shares.

One offer is from EP Global Commerce, Kretinsky's investment vehicle, supported by a third billionaire, Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, via his holding company Fimalac.


Under their €1.35 billion new equity bid, the two investors pledged to inject €860 million, while non-secured debt holders would bring €290 million, and €200 million would be invested by existing shareholders.

The whole of Casino's non-secured debt would be converted into equity as well as €1.5 billion worth of secured debt, cutting in effect the group's debt by more than €4.5 billion

Niel Offer

The other proposal is from 3F holding, led by Niel, investment banker Matthieu Pigasse and businessman Moez-Alexandre Zouari.

Under their plan, 3F would bring €900 million of new money, Casino said, out of which only half would constitute actual new equity.


The other half would come in the form of a new senior debt under very strict financial conditions, according to Casino. Under 3F's plan, a much smaller proportion of Casino's secured debt - €300 million - would be converted into equity.

Both new equity bids would lead to governance reshuffle at Casino.

Wednesday Meeting

Casino will present the two rival bids to representatives of its debt holders on Wednesday at a meeting hosted by France's finance ministry and attended by the would-be new equity providers.

A debt restructuring became unavoidable as the sixth-largest French retailer continues to burn cash and faces €3 billion of debt maturing in 2024 and 2025.


Casino is paying the consequences of years of debt-fuelled deals that following recent losses in market share and revenue declines that have put it on the verge of bankruptcy.

Read More: Groupe Casino Unveils Details Of Stores To Be Sold To Intermarché

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