Casino goes to conciliation to renegotiate its debt and wants to sell a hundred stores to Intermarché

The distributor Casino formalized on Friday its entry into a conciliation procedure for a period of four months in order to renegotiate its large debt, announcing its desire to sell a hundred supermarkets and hypermarkets to the Intermarché group.

“The President of the Commercial Court of Paris has decided to open a conciliation procedure on May 25, 2023” for the benefit of Casino and its subsidiaries, including Monoprix and Franprix, “for an initial period of four months, possibly extendable by one months”, indicates the group indebted to the tune of 6.4 billion euros at the end of 2022, including 4.5 on its activity in France.

Casino specifies that this procedure, which should enable it to reach an agreement with its creditors with a view to a potential restructuring of its debt, “concerns only the financial debt of the company” and certain subsidiaries. It “will have no impact on the group’s relations with its operational partners (in particular its suppliers) and employees”.

– Fall of the action –

This announcement had been expected since Casino on Tuesday asked for the trading of its shares to be suspended “pending the publication of a press release and until further notice”.

Quotation resumed Friday on the Paris Stock Exchange, where the action was heckled, losing 9.62% to 6.11 euros around 9:10 a.m. (07:10 GMT). The action of its parent company Rallye also fell 8% to 0.92 euros. Since the beginning of the year, the title of Casino has lost more than a third of its value and that of Rallye around 65%.

Casino, which employs more than 50,000 people in France and 200,000 worldwide under many brands, has been struggling for years to get out of debt, so far without success.

The group nevertheless arouses envy, on the part of the billionaire Daniel Kretinsky as well as the distribution group Teract, whose majority shareholder is the giant of the food industry InVivo.

At the end of April, the third supermarket chain in France, Intermarché, joined the discussions supposed to be completed by the end of May.

In parallel with the opening of the entry into conciliation, Casino announced on Friday an agreement with Intermarché for the sale of more than a hundred points of sale “from the Casino France perimeter”, including hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores and representing a total of 1.15 billion euros in turnover.

This sale, which remains subject to the agreement of the employee representative bodies and the authorities, would take place in two stages. The “first disposals will take place by the end of this year” and will weigh around 600 million euros in turnover including tax.

Then the following disposals would represent 550 million euros in turnover, Casino having undertaken to carry them out “at the request” of Intermarché and “at the latest within three years”, this “delay which may be accelerated by Casino”.

For Intermarché, the operation makes it possible to “complete its national network”, explained the boss of the Les Mousquetaires / Intermarché group Thierry Cotillard on Friday at the microphone of Radio Classique, “and for Casino to refocus on its priority areas”, Ile-de -France, Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

– “Future round of the table” –

Casino specifies that, “on the signing of the binding agreements, the Les Mousquetaires group would pay Casino an initial lump sum payment of 100 million euros, which would be deducted from the final price calculated on the market value of the assets”.

In addition, Intermarché, which plans to convert some of these stores into discounters under its Netto brand, has “undertaken to acquire”, if Casino requests it within three years, “an additional volume of stores representing 500 million euros in turnover”.

The operation is a reason for concern for the employee representatives concerned by this change of name because the group structures are different between Casino, an integrated group with a more structured social dialogue, and Intermarché, where the social policy depends on each store manager, the brand being a group of independents.

Casino further specifies that Intermarché “will participate” in a “future round table of the Casino group, with an equity investment of 100 million euros”, and that this agreement is “compatible with the discussions currently underway with Teract on the industrial project initiated a few months ago, as well as with all additional capital operations”.

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