•  Auchan buys Metro's Real eastern Europe ops for EUR1.1bn
transaction comprises Reals operational activities in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine as well as real estate assets

transaction comprises Real's operational activities in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine as well as real estate assets

German retail giant Metro Group has sold its Real grocery chain in eastern Europe to French retailer Auchan for EUR1.1bn (US$1.4bn).

The transaction, announced today (30 November), comprises Real's operational activities in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine as well as real estate assets. Real's business in Turkey is not part of the deal as Auchan has no operations there and said it wants to "solely strengthen its already existing activities" in Eastern Europe with the acquisition.

Metro said the move will allow it to focus on the "successful further development" of its domestic Real business, while at the same time "facilitating major growth opportunities for the business operations in Eastern Europe".

"With Auchan, we found the most suitable buyer for Real's business activities in Eastern Europe," said Olaf Koch, chairman of Metro's management board. "Real is already very well positioned in these countries and has great growth opportunities. Auchan offers good development perspectives for the Real hypermarkets and their employees."

The sales includes 91 Real hypermarkets in Poland, Russia, Romania and Ukraine. Real has sales of over EUR2.6bn in those four countries and employs around 20,000 people, it said.

Metro will receive EUR600m in cash from the deal, which is expected to close next year.

Metro had repeated denied it was looking to sell off its Real hypermarket stores outside Germany as part of a restructuring of the business.

In July, Metro said it had received some interest in the international business of Real but said there had been "no concrete negotiations" and that no decision to sell the stores had been made.

Reports in October had linked Auchan, along with Russian retailer O'Key as two of three bidders in the running for the Real stores in Russia.

Metro shares climbed 2.8% to EUR22.20 at 13:51 GMT.

Show the press release

METRO GROUP sells Real Eastern Europe for € 1.1 billion to Auchan
30/11/2012
METRO GROUP sells Real Eastern Europe for € 1.1 billion to Auchan
Transaction comprises operational activities in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine as well as real estate assets
Cash inflow of around € 600 million
Significant reduction of rating-relevant net debt by € 1.5 billion
German business of Real remains an integral part of METRO GROUP - further development targeted
Today, METRO GROUP signed an agreement with the French retailer Groupe Auchan about the divestment of Real's business in Eastern Europe. Groupe Auchan will take over the operational activities and real estate assets of the METRO GROUP subsidiary in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. With this move, Real focuses on the successful further development of its German business while at the same time facilitating major growth opportunities for the business operations in Eastern Europe. The purchase price amounts to € 1.1 billion. METRO GROUP will receive a cash inflow of around € 600 million from this transaction. The rating-relevant net debt will be significantly reduced by € 1.5 billion. The divestment still requires approval by the relevant antitrust authorities and will probably be closed in 2013.
Vianney Mulliez, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Groupe Auchan, said: "With the purchase of Real's business activities in the four countries Groupe Auchan takes the opportunity to balance its presence in Central and Eastern Europe, its two other priority development zones being Western Europe and Asia. It is also an opportunity to offer an even better service to our customers, with very professional teams, both in Real and Auchan, that we fully trust." In future, the Real hypermarkets in Eastern Europe will operate under the Auchan brand.
"With Auchan, we found the most suitable buyer for Real's business activities in Eastern Europe. Real is already very well positioned in these countries and has great growth opportunities. Auchan offers good development perspectives for the Real hypermarkets and their employees", said Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG.
Real's business activities in Turkey are not part of this transaction as Auchan has no operations there and wants to solely strengthen its already existing activities in Eastern Europe with the acquisitions. Real in Turkey remains unaffected by any changes: "The business activities of Real in Turkey have developed very nicely in recent years and show great growth potential. This is now to be consequently tapped", said Koch.
"Real Germany forms an integral part of the portfolio of METRO GROUP. We are convinced of the potential inherent in the hypermarket business in Germany. In collaboration with the management of Real we are currently working on an action plan to leverage the existing earnings potential and to sustainably increase profitability", said Koch.
The sale of Real Eastern Europe to Groupe Auchan comprises 91 Real hypermarkets in Poland, Russia, Romania and Ukraine including the real estate assets of 14 stores. In these four countries, Real has reached sales of more than € 2.6 billion in 2011 and has a workforce of around 20,000 employees. Auchan operates 98 stores and has a workforce of around 65.000 employees in these four countries.

Original source: The Metro Group