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July 5, 2011

FRANCE: We are not hostile, Carrefour tells Casino

Carrefour today (5 July) insisted it had "no hostile intentions" towards its French rival Casino, which is battling the world's second-largest grocer for control of Brazil's largest retailer.

By Dean Best

Carrefour today (5 July) insisted it had “no hostile intentions” towards its French rival Casino, which is battling the world’s second-largest grocer for control of Brazil’s largest retailer.

The two retailers are tussling over the future of CBD, also known through its trading name of Grupo Pao de Acucar.

Carrefour’s board supports are plan to merge its operations in Brazil with CBD, a proposal that has riled Casino, which co-owns the Brazilian retailer.

Casino has called the plan “illegal” and has filed two arbitration requests against Abilio Diniz, who heads fellow CBD shareholder, the Diniz Group, and who held talks with Carrefour over the proposed merger.

Today, Carrefour said it had not made a “hostile” move against Casino, which claims to have the right to become CBD’s sole controlling shareholder next year.

Carrefour said Brazilian investment fund Gama, which put forward the merger plan, had “submitted its proposal simultaneously to both Carrefour and CBD” and the retailer added: “The proposed transaction is subject to CBD’s approval.”

Yesterday’s announcement from Carrefour that its board backed the plan drew a fierce response from Casino, which criticised its rival for its failure to mention that any deal must be sanctioned by both shareholders in CBD.

Casino claims a 2006 agreement it has with Diniz means any talks over the future of CBD must have the French firm’s consent and involvement. It also insists that the Gama-led proposal can only go ahead with the approval of the board of Wilkes, which is the holding company Casino formed with Diniz to own CBD.

However, Carrefour said today that it was “not incumbent” on it “to comment on CBD’s internal decision-making process”.

Carrefour also appeared to question the claims that Casino has made over its agreements with Diniz.

“Publicly-available agreements between Casino and the Diniz Group relating to CBD and its controlling shareholder Wilkes do not contain, to our knowledge, any provision prohibiting discussions or negotiations and to date Casino has not referred to any specific clause to support its assertions,” Carrefour said.

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