French distributor Casino wants to relieve 2 billion euro from its debt thanks to real estate sales in Thailand and Colombia and the sale of its Vietnamese activities.
Stock value halved
During a general assembly in 2014, CEO Jean-Charles Naouri was able to boast about the company's stock value, which had doubled in 5 years' time, nearly reaching 97 euro per share. Ever since April, the company has lost its spark and lost half of its value already. To turn the tide, Casino announced it will get rid of 2 billion euros' worth of debt.
That is why the French distributor is looking for investors for the "walls" of several shopping malls in Thailand (where it is active with its Big C brand) and Colombia (where it owns Exito), although it wants to maintain the majority of shares in its real estate projects. It does want to pull out of Vietnam though, where it has 31 hypermarkets and 10 convenience stores with a 600 million euro turnover (some 2.5 % of the group turnover).
Alongside several other "non-strategic assets", CFO Antoine Giscard d'Estaing hopes to find 2 billion euro in the "next 12 months. There is clear interest from potential investors", he said. Investors reacted in a relieved fashion.
Vietnam is only the next one in a long list of countries Casino has now vacated. It already pulled out of Poland (2006), the Netherlands (2009) and Venezuela (2010). Most of Casino's turnover comes from 2 countries: its home nation of France (19.6 billion euro) and Brazil (19.4 billion euro). The South American combination of Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay brings in 5.1 billion euro in turnover, Thailand about 1 billion euro.