A group of French financial institutions said it has paid €242m (US$258.9m) to buy 59 Spanish supermarkets from French retail giant Carrefour.

Carrefour, which sold the stores under terms of regulatory clearance for a 1999 merger with Promodes, will continue to operate the supermarkets under long-term leases.

Insurer CNP Assurances, units of mutual lender Caisse d’Epargne, and listed bank Credit Agricole said the deal was signed at the end of 2002, and will be 50% financed from cash reserves, with the remainder coming from debt, reported Down Jones International News.