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Paris Court Extends Groupe Casino's Debt Restructuring Protection

By Reuters
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Paris Court Extends Groupe Casino's Debt Restructuring Protection

French supermarkets group Casino said that the Paris commerce court had extended a protection procedure it had entered into in October to help finalise a deal to restructure its debt by a further two months.

Casino, which has issued two recent profit warnings due to a worsening situation at its hypermarkets, is racing to finalise a bailout to avoid bankruptcy early next year.

A new leadership team formed around Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is set to take control of France's seventh-largest supermarket group by market share, which was brought to the verge of default after years of debt-fuelled acquisitions and recent losses in market share to rivals.

Casino said last month it had received preliminary, indicative offers from several buyers for an unspecified number of hypermarkets and supermarkets it had put up for sale.

French rivals Auchan and Intermarché have made a joint offer for all the stores Casino wants to sell, while Leclerc and Germany's Lidl were also among those interested, sources said.

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Potential bidders had to turn indicative bids or expressions of interest into firm offers from 8 December and several did so, a source close to the matter said on Monday.

Trade Unions Urge Government To Intervene

Trade unions fear Casino could be dismantled if the French hyper and supermarkets are sold and have asked to meet with finance minister Bruno Le Maire and President Emmanuel Macron.

Sophie Binet, head of the hard-left CGT union on Monday urged Macron's government to intervene.

"If Casino sells 400 hypermarkets, it is obvious that the headquarters, the warehouses become over-sized and there will be social damage. The government must weigh on buyers," she said in an interview with Franceinfo radio.

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Casino's unions are calling for a new day of protest on 17 December in front of its historic headquarters of Saint-Etienne, in central France.

A sale of the hyper and supermarkets, if completed, would sharply reduce Casino's size in terms of sales, leaving it mainly with the Monoprix and Franprix stores in France.

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