Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is the only remaining candidate to take over French supermarket group Casino. The opposing candidate, a trio of French businessmen, has refused to make a better offer.
It looks like the battle for Casino is over, now that one of the two candidates has withdrawn: after already submitting a much lower bid in the first round, the trio Niel-Pigasse-Zaouri did not submit a new bid in the second round, with deadline this weekend.
Their consortium, 3F Holding, stated that the process was biased and that they have not been given enough information. “After months of work, 3F has decided not to submit a bid“, they said a statement. “The company has clearly already chosen a buyer”, they said, ignoring their previous promise to do everything possible to keep the supermarket group in French hands.
However, the company is not the most attractive bride: the retailer has been struggling for years and was recently even fined for being dishonest about its weak finances in (at least) 2018 and 2019. As such, Casino was in even worse shape than it let on.
Time is up
Kretinsky is already a shareholder at Casino and has previously made a takeover bid for the group. He did make a revised offer on Saturday, he told the Financial Times this weekend. Together with Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière as a business partner, he wants to bring in 1.2 billion euros in equity and convert 4.9 billion euros in debt into shares. This would give the acquirers 53 % of the shares.
There is no doubt that costs will be cut firmly after the takeover. Casino is struggling with 6.4 billion euros in debt and is on the brink of collapse. By 27 July, the court hopes to find an agreement with the many creditors. On the French government’s concerns about job losses, Kretinsky said in advance that he wants to make “the greatest possible effort” to preserve “the maximum rational perimeter” for Casino. Read: the group will shrink significantly…