French retail giant Carrefour is to sell off part of its property portfolio through an IPO slated for next year.

The decision from Carrefour, announced this morning (30 August), comes after months of speculation surrounding the future of the company's bank of real estate assets.

Earlier this year, Bernard Arnault, head of luxury goods group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, teamed up with private investors Colony Capital to buy a 9.1% stake in Carrefour.

Since then, speculation grew that Carrefour would be pressured to release the capital tied up in its property assets. Colony was seen to be instrumental in encouraging another of its interests, French hotel group Accor, into offloading sections of its property portfolio.

Carrefour said it would float its property arm, Carrefour Property, next year. The retailer values the business at EUR20-24bn (US$27-33bn). The company said it planned to keep a majority stake in the listed entity and intends to raise EUR3bn from the IPO.

Carrefour said the property division would contain 280 hypermarkets and 540 supermarkets prior to its listing.

Carrefour, the word's number two retailer by sales, also announced its first-half results today. Net profit rose 3.3% to EUR729m on the back of a 5.5% increase in sales to EUR38.8bn.