Intermarché set to buy more than 100 stores of French rival Casino

Rising debts and share value slump have pushed the supermarket chain to refocus on key areas

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French supermarket Casino is planning to sell a number of its assets – including more than 100 of its stores – to help deal with spiralling debts.

The overall Casino Group – which also controls the Franprix and Monoprix shops alongside the Casino supermarkets – are facing debts of around €6.4 billion, with almost €4.5 billion relating to activities in France.

It announced on Friday (May 26) it was entering a four-month ‘conciliation period’ in light of the issue, and after temporarily requesting a suspension of shares on Tuesday, saw its value drop by almost 10% on the Paris stock exchange.

Since the beginning of the year, Caisno shares have lost around a third of their value, spelling even bigger trouble for the group.

Expected sale of more than €1 billion

Despite the group’s high debts, a number of parties were interested in the company’s assets, including Daniel Kretinsky, a major shareholder of West Ham United football club.

Intermarché won the ensuing bidding war, however, and is set to purchase more than one hundred stores from Casino’s France holdings, for a reported cost of €1.15billion.

The size of the sale means it will need prior approval from the authorities as well as employee regulatory bodies.

If approved, the sale will occur in two parts, with the first coming at the end of this year and seeing €600 million worth of buildings sold to Intermarché.

The remaining €550 million in assets would be sold over the next three years, available to be transferred at Intermarché’s request.

Acquiring the stores would allow the supermarket chain to “complete its national network,” said Les Mousquetaires/Intermarché group boss Thierry Cotillard on Friday.

It would “enable Casino to refocus on its priority areas," he added, which are namely the Ile-de-France, Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions.

The Casino group employs around 200,000 worldwide – a quarter of those in France – and it could be a massive blow if a significant number of employees lose their jobs.

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