The ailing French distributor Casino wants to reduce its debts and seems to have found an interested party to offload its Géant hypermarkets to. Discounter E.Leclerc has started acquisition talks for three-quarters of the hypermarkets.
Michel-Édouard Leclerc's group may take over sixty hypermarkets from Casino, for more than 1.5 billion euros. Casino, for its part, would retain only 20 hypermarkets in the south-east of France, including the one in Annemasse (near the Swiss border), which is known as the most profitable store in the Géant network.
If an agreement is reached, E.Leclerc will reinforce its dominance on the French market: the group is already the largest distributor in France with a market share of almost 22 %. According to Capital.fr, negotiations are in full swing, but any deal must still be approved by the competition authorities.
Casino is burdened by a heavy debt of about 4.7 billion euros. In order to reduce these debts, the group intends to divest a whole range of activities, keeping its focus only on convenience stores (Franprix), the premium segment (Monoprix) and e-commerce (Cdiscount). In August, the company of CEO Jean-Charles Naouri increased its divestment programme again by 2 billion euros.
In September, the company also launched exclusive negotiations with Aldi regarding the sale of its Leader Price stores. This sale could potentially generate 700 million euros for Casino, much more than the initially mentioned 400 million.