What are promises worth? The rescue of Casino (Monoprix, Franprix, CDiscount, Naturalia) has not even been finalized yet and serious doubts are already tainting the commitment made by the prospective buyers to maintain the integrity of the group in France. A confidential document, which The world has been able to consult, indeed shows the existence in recent days of exchanges between Lidl and the Attestor fund, a last-minute guest in the team formed by businessmen Daniel Kretinsky (indirect shareholder of the World) and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.
In this letter addressed to David Alhadeff, one of the partners of Attestor in charge of the Casino file, and signed by Kenneth McGrath, the general manager of Lidl, the German distributor draws up a list ” target “ nearly 600 supermarkets, around 300 Casino and 300 Monoprix, from Marseille to Saint-Galmier (Loire), via Paris, which he says he is interested in acquiring. This mark of interest is confirmed by Attestor’s entourage who specifies “that there are no discussions”.
According to the Casino website, the group has 315 Monoprix stores in France and 103 abroad (employing 21,000 employees), 429 Casino supermarkets in France, plus 26 stores internationally (10,860 employees). This is to say the appetite shown by Lidl. In addition to this inventory, the suitor adds that he has a certain “flexibility” to also buy Géant hypermarkets and, why not, get their hands on all the Casino and Monoprix supermarkets.
Proof, in any case, that Lidl has received careful attention to its proposals, the group is actively working on such a scenario, presented under the code name “Voltaire Project” : probably because the motto of the French writer, “misfortune is good for something”, would apply well to the situation if the setbacks of Jean-Charles Naouri, the founder of the Casino group, allowed the discounter to grow in France where it captures 8% of the food market according to figures from Kantar, with more than 1,500 stores.
The distributor, supported by the UBS investment bank, is in the starting blocks: it says it is ready to offer an indicative valuation of these stores ” target “ in forty-eight hours, provided the ” seller “ provide him with figures on these points of sale. France being presented as a market ” key “ for the German group, this desire to move forward is “shared and approved at the highest level” of the Schwarz family group, owner of Lidl.
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