French retailer Groupe Casino has become the majority shareholder in Colombia's largest food retailer Exito.

Casino said today (4 May) that it has taken its interest in Exito to 61.5% after buying an additional 21.9% stake in the company.

Casino secured the shares under an agreement that gave it the right of first refusal to a block of shares owned by the local Toro family, who decided to sell up in January. Casino paid COP13,052 (US$6.29) a share for the additional stake.

Casino said the deal strengthens its position in a "highly strategic" region, where it has also interests in Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Earlier this year, Exito merged with local rival Carulla Vivero. Last year, Exito enjoyed sales of $2.8bn and net profit of $220m.