The Challenges of Daniel Kretinsky, New Casino Master

The Casino Group Board of Directors, meeting on Monday July 17, announced in the evening that it was continuing negotiations with a view to a recapitalization with the businessmen Daniel Kretinsky (indirect shareholder of the World) and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, now ociated with the British fund Attestor, the largest creditor of the French distributor (Franprix, Monoprix, Naturalia, Cdiscount). With other investors (whose identity is not yet known), they plan to inject 1.2 billion euros into the capital of the group in difficulty. At the same time, 4.7 billion euros in debt, out of the 7.6 billion supported by Casino, should be erased. The other suitors, Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pige (individual shareholders of the World) and Moez-Alexandre Zouari, had given up, on Sunday, to submit an offer.

Objective still stated, to obtain an agreement in principle with the creditors by the end of July in order to restructure the debt, but also to put in place new financing: a syndicated loan of 750 million euros, a senior loan of 1 .4 billion euros and an operating debt of 900 million euros, while Casino’s cash flow has been battered due to the deterioration in activity observed in recent months in hypermarkets and supermarkets.

The proposal submitted by the consortium on Saturday was deemed satisfactory by the distributor. ” Mission accomplished ! We have received particularly strong and lasting commitments on the preservation of the integrity of the group, the maintenance of employment and seats. This preservation of the integrity of the company can, moreover, be based on a realistic business plan”explains a spokesperson for the group. The headquarters of Saint-Etienne “aims to become a center of innovation for the group”, according to the details of the recovery plan unveiled Monday evening by Casino. The buyers in the running are targeting “job creation in stores and logistics centers”.

Willingness to diversify

This is an important step for Mr. Kretinsky, who failed in 2019 to buy the German wholesaler Metro, of which he controls 40% of the voting rights through the Czech holding company EP Global Commerce. After making his fortune in energy, the businessman sought to diversify, betting in particular on the retail and logistics sector in Europe. It owns, with the investment vehicle Vesa Equity Investment, more than 25% of the voting rights of Fnac Darty in France, 10% of the British brand Sainsbury’s and even stakes in British and Dutch postal operators.

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