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July 5, 2011

UPDATE: FRANCE: Casino hits back at Carrefour’s CBD claims

Casino has taken a swipe at Carrefour in the ongoing dispute over the future of Brazilian retailer CBD and insisted its French rival had acted in a "hostile" manner.

By Dean Best

Casino has taken a swipe at Carrefour in the ongoing dispute over the future of Brazilian retailer CBD and insisted its French rival had acted in a “hostile” manner.

Earlier today (5 July), Carrefour, which is looking to merge its operations in Brazil with CBD, claimed it harboured “no hostile intentions” against Casino.

Carrefour has backed a plan, put forward by Brazilian investment fund Gama, to combine its local assets with CBD, the country’s largest retailer.

However, Casino, which is a co-owner of CBD, has attacked the plan as “illegal”. It has also lodged two requests for arbitration with its fellow CBD shareholder Abilio Diniz, which held talks with Carrefour over the proposal and supports the plan.

Casino claims a 2005 deal with Diniz means it owns the right to become the sole controlling shareholder in CBD, also known through its trading name of Grupo Pao de Acucar, next year.

In response to Carrefour’s statement today, Casino claimed its rival’s “secret talks” pointed to its “hostile” intentions.

“Carrefour’s hostile attitude is made plain by the fact that Carrefour conducted secret talks for months to capture control of CBD,” Casino said. “If Carrefour had no hostile intention towards Casino, it would have clearly informed Casino – as the largest shareholder in CBD, exacting joint control of the company – of its project.”

Casino has consistently argued that a 2006 agreement with Diniz means that it has to agree to – and be involved in – any discussions over the future of CBD. By holding talks with Carrefour, Diniz has broken the deal, Casino has argued, prompting it to seek arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce.

Diniz said last week that he was “convinced” that his negotiations with Carrefour had “taken place in a legitimate manner, in accordance with Brazilian law, our shareholder accords and the principles of trade ethics”.

Carrefour appeared today to support Diniz and question Casino’s claims of the veracity of the shareholder agreements.

“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.

Casino, however, disagreed. “The letter and the spirit of the public agreements concluded by Casino and the Diniz Group prohibit such negotiations and Casino is confident the courts will confirm this.”

The Brazilian National Development Bank, which has said it would part-fund the controversial merger, reportedly said yesterday that it would only back the deal if Casino supported the transaction.

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