FRANCE: Carrefour "considers asset disposals"
Carrefour is reportedly under pressure from its two activist shareholders to realise value from its hard-discount and property businesses, and is on track to make a decision before the summer.
The Financial Times reported that Carrefour is being pushed by 14% stakeholders Groupe Arnault, the private investment vehicle of French billionaire Bernard Arnault, and US private-equity firm Colony Capital to dispose of assets to boost its share price.
The FT reported that shares in the retailer have fallen by 12% in the past three months, driven down by two profit warnings in October and November and accounting irregularities in Brazil that will cost an exceptional one-off charge of EUR550m.
According to the report, Carrefour contracted BNP Paribas to asses whether it should keep its Ed and Dia hard discount stores and is now studying the options presented by the bank.
"Structurally Dia and Ed have been businesses within a business, which would make them easier to sell than property if there had to be a choice between the two," the FT quoted a source who knows the company.
Regarding the retailer's property division, which is also listed separately, the retailer may struggle to unlock value from property, while maintaining control over the rent it pays. CEO Lars Olofsson suggested that only a minority listing would be acceptable, when he said in September that: "I'm not ready to cede control because rent is important."
Last week, the retailer recorded a 5.8% rise in sales for 2010, with growth driven by Latin America and Asia.
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