Czech investor Kretinsky beefs up stake in supermarket group Casino

Monday 20th January 2020

PARIS -- Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky and his junior partner Patrik Tkac said on Monday that they had raised their stake in Casino to 5.64% from 4.63%, in a further show of support to the troubled French retailer.

The move comes as CEO and controlling shareholder Jean-Charles Naouri is hunting for ways to ease the company's debts - and those of parent company Rallye - in part through asset sales.

Casino, which faces fierce competition in its home market from the likes of Amazon, last week slashed its 2019 profit outlook, saying transport strikes in France against pension reforms weighed on its fourth quarter.

The duo, who bought their initial stake via their Vesa Equity Investment company, became Casino's second-largest shareholder in September.

Kretinsky and Tkac on Monday reiterated their support for Naouri's plans, saying: "We continue to give our full support to the management of the Casino, Guichard-Perrachon Group and our confidence in its ability to implement its long-term strategic vision, to which we subscribe."

Kretinsky, who also owns a stake in Germany supermarket group Metro AG, and has holdings in French newspaper Le Monde and Czech soccer club Sparta Prague, described Casino as "one of the European leaders best able to respond to the profound changes in the sector."

Casino, with a market value of 4.22 billion euros and group consolidated net debt of 4.7 billion euros at the end of June 2019, is engaged in a 4.5 billion euro disposal plan which includes the sale of its Leader Price discount chain.

Jean-Charles Naouri said in the joint statement that, as announced in September, he will propose to the board of directors of Casino the appointment of a representative of Vesa. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Louise Heavens)

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