Green light from Casino to “continue negotiations” with the duo Kretinsky-Ladreit de Lacharrière and the Attestor fund

The Casino group gave the green light on Monday to “continue negotiations” with billionaires Daniel Kretinsky and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, now backed by the British fund Attestor and the only ones in the running for the takeover of the distributor in difficulty after the announcement of the withdrawal on Sunday evening of the Niel-Pigasse-Zouari trio, according to a press release.

Before taking control of the group with 200,000 employees, the duo of billionaires and Attestor still have to convince the creditors made up of major French and European banks, investment funds or institutional players, to whom a presentation of “the revised offer received on July 15” by Casino was made on Monday.

Casino’s Board of Directors, “on the unanimous recommendation of its ad hoc committee comprising almost all of the independent directors, has decided to continue negotiations with EP Global Commerce as (one of Daniel Kretinsky’s investment vehicles), Fimalac (holding of Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière) and Attestor”, according to the Casino press release published Monday evening.

The trio Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse and Moez-Alexandre Zouari had thrown in the towel on Sunday, feeling betrayed by a “biased” process and accusing Casino of having “obviously already chosen its buyer”. 3F, the holding company through which the trio intended to take over the struggling distributor, also accuses the investment fund Attestor of having contributed to the competing offer “while continuing to participate” in its own meetings.

Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky in Paris, January 22, 2020 (AFP/Archives – JOEL SAGET)

The offer of Messrs. Kretinsky and Ladreit de Lacharrière had been “modified a little” from the initial offer to ensure the support of more Casino creditors, the Czech billionaire told Les Echos on Sunday.

The plan now provides for the injection of 1.2 billion euros in new money, including more than 900 million euros from the duo, against 1.35 billion in the initial proposal.

The Czech billionaire has also closed the door to the historic boss of Casino, Jean-Charles Naouri, current owner of the group but who will no longer be at the end of the operation, whatever the outcome.

Francophile, Kretinsky, 48 and whose fortune amounts to 9.7 billion dollars (about 8.6 billion euros) according to Forbes, began investing in France in 2018. He holds stakes in media ( Liberation, Marianne…), distribution (Fnac Darty), publishing (Editis, agreement concluded in June) and industry (mainly in energy).

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