Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky has pushed French retailer Groupe Casino's management to sell its largest stores ahead of his planned bailout, the Financial Times reported, citing three people aware of the discussions.
Kretinsky had expressed concerns about the feasibility of keeping the stores to the company's founder Jean-Charles Naouri months ago, FT said.
Casino did not immediately reply to Reuters' request for comment.
French food retailers Intermarché, Système U, Auchan and Carrefour are among the bidders lining up to buy the stores, the report said, adding that Germany-based discount chains Lidl and Aldi are also planning separate offers.
Talks with Lidl and Intermarché are in the most advanced stage, after Intermarché parent company Groupement Les Mousquetaires already agreed to buy about 60 stores from Casino in May, the report added.
Casino said earlier this week that it has received expressions of interest for its hypermarket and supermarket stores, declining to name the bidders or number of stores it intends to sell.
On Monday, Casino announced that approval from the consortium is mandatory for any disposals, as stipulated in the lock-up agreement established on October 5.
The company is grappling with the repercussions of years of deals financed by debt. Recent declines in market share and revenue have pushed close to bankruptcy.
Last week, Casino issued a warning about anticipated losses in 2023 for its primary French operations. This caution was prompted by a turnaround in its hypermarkets division that proved to be slower than initially anticipated.
Additional reporting by ESM