CBD, Brazil's largest retailer, saw the growth in its food sales accelerate in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The company, also known by its trading name Grupo Pao de Acucar, reported a 10.3% increase in net sales from its food division to BRL7.21bn (US$4.04bn) for the last three months of the year. Over 2011, as a whole, food net sales increased 8.9% to BRL25.58bn.

The retailer, which was the subject of a fierce takeover battle between its two key investors last year, said gross same-store sales from its food unit rose 8.7% in the fourth quarter - versus growth of 8% in the entire year.

CBD's total sales - including its Globex non-food business - increased 21.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to BRL13.37bn. Annual sales grew 45.2% to BRL46.59bn. Its sames-store sales were up 8.5% in the last three months of 2011, slowing from the 8.8% growth it saw for the year as a whole.

Last May, Brazilian tycoon Abilio Diniz, who co-owns CBD with French retailer Casino, sought to merge the Brazilian firm with Carrefour's operations in the country.

However, Casino claimed a deal with Diniz in 2005 meant it was due to become the sole controlling shareholder in CBD next year and hit out at its partner's plan, lodging two requests for arbitration. The very public spat between Casino and Diniz, which lasted almost two months, led Brazil's National Development Bank, which had pledged to part fund the deal, to withdraw its offer of financial support and Diniz's plans were, at least for the time being, stymied.