Green light from Casino to the revised offer of the Kretinsky-Ladreit de Lacharrière duo backed by the Attestor fund

The Casino group gave the green light on Monday to an improved offer to recapitalize and restructure its debt presented by billionaires Daniel Kretinsky and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, now backed by the British fund Attestor to take control of the ailing Saint-Etienne distributor.

The duo of billionaires and Attestor, who present themselves as a “consortium” that “other secured creditors (i.e. holders of secured debt, editor’s note) could join”, must still convince creditors made up of large banks French and European companies, investment funds or institutional players.

The consortium was alone in the running for the takeover of the distributor, which has 200,000 employees worldwide, including a quarter in France, since the announcement of the withdrawal Sunday evening of the Niel-Pigasse-Zouari trio. The latter denounced a “biased process” considering that Casino had “obviously already chosen its buyer”.

3F, the holding company through which the Niel-Pigasse-Zouari trio intended to take over Casino, also accused the Attestor investment fund of having contributed to the competing offer “while continuing to participate” in its own meetings.

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, editor’s note) , Fimalac (holding company of Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, Editor’s note) and Attestor”, according to the Casino press release published Monday evening.

Objective: “reach an agreement in principle on the restructuring of the group’s financial debt by the end of July 2023”, recalls the group, which is facing crushing debt, announced at 6.4 billion euros at the end of 2022.

– A “revised offer” –

A presentation of the “revised offer received on July 15” by Casino was made on Monday under the aegis of the conciliators and the CIRI, the Interministerial Committee for Industrial Restructuring, a service at Bercy which looks into companies in financial difficulty.

This offer provides for a capital increase reserved for the consortium of a volume of 925 million euros, after which the duo of billionaires and Attestor will hold 53% of Casino.

To this would be added a guaranteed capital increase of 275 million euros intended to onboard a maximum of creditors, in priority those holders of secured debt, with the key to the promise of 14.9% of the capital.

The plan now provides for the injection of 1.2 billion euros of new money, against 1.35 billion in the initial proposal.

It is also planned to reduce the debt to 2.5 billion euros at the end of 2023 and 1.2 billion at the end of 2024, compared to 2 billion and 800,000 euros respectively in the offer presented at the beginning of July by the Kretinsky-Ladreit duo of Lacharrière.

The consortium’s offer explicitly mentions the planned maintenance of the head office in Saint-Etienne and the administrative functions, which will be brought together there. It says it does not plan to cut jobs and, on the contrary, “aims to create jobs in stores and logistics centers”.

The Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire had indicated on July 11 that the State would ensure “the solidity of the industrial project” and the future of the 50,000 employees of the group” in France.

The consortium closes 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.

It is planned to appoint CEO Philippe Palazzi, formerly of Metro, advised by Jean-Paul Mochet, former boss of Monoprix and Franprix.

The green light from the administrators on Monday evening thus makes it possible to “continue negotiations” with creditors, with the aim of completing them by July 27, the date of presentation of Casino’s half-year results.

The plan, with its capital increases, would then be submitted for shareholder approval at a general meeting “no later than September 30”, with a view to completion at the end of 2023, according to the details of the disclosed offer. Monday evening by Casino.

Suspended Monday, the listing of Casino shares and other listed securities issued by the company will resume Tuesday at the opening of the market.

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