French Retailer Casino's Shares Suspended As Kretinsky Looks Set To Take Control

By Reuters
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French Retailer Casino's Shares Suspended As Kretinsky Looks Set To Take Control

Casino's shares were suspended shortly before the market opened on Monday pending a company statement, as Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky appeared to be nearing victory in the battle to take control of the debt-laden French retailer.

Kretinsky has been vying to take control of Casino against the 3F Holding group, led by telecoms entrepreneur Xavier Niel, investment banker Matthieu Pigasse and businessman Moez-Alexandre Zouari.

A new deadline for rival bidders to present their rescue offers for Casino had been set for 14 July as the retailer reported a further drop in sales in the second quarter.

The group is saddled with net debt of €6.4 billion ($7.1 billion) and is teetering on the brink of default.

'Today, after months of work, 3F has decided to not submit an offer,' 3F said in a statement.


It said it had not received detailed financial information to make a serious offer, but also took a swipe at secured creditor Attestor Capital.

It accused the fund of initially backing 3F's first offer, while simultaneously taking part in a competing offer before the submission of the offers and without informing 3F.

"3F has nevertheless decided ... not to submit an offer and refuses to participate in a biased process - the company having obviously already chosen its buyer," 3F said.

Casino declined to comment on the statement.


A Revised Offer

In an interview with the Financial Times published on 16 July, Kretinsky said he had submitted a revised offer on 15 July to Casino.

Along with Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière’s Fimalac, he would inject €1.2 billion ($1.35 billion) in equity to take a 53% stake in France's sixth-largest retailer.

The bidders would also convert €4.9 billion of debt into equity.

Kretinsky and EP Global Commerce – his investment vehicle – could not immediately be reached for comment.


Earlier, Casino had said in a statement that court-appointed mediators who have been trying to broker a deal with the group's creditors by 27 July had set a deadline for the two rival camps to present revised bids no later than 19:00 GMT (15:00 ET) on 14 July.

The French government is concerned about possible job cuts at Casino. The group had about 50,000 employees in the country at the end of last year.

"Our desire is to make the greatest effort possible to preserve the maximum possible, rational perimeter of Casino,” the Czech billionaire was quoted as saying in the Financial Times.

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