"The President of the Paris Commercial Court has decided to open on May 25, 2023 a conciliation procedure" for the benefit of Casino and its subsidiaries including Monoprix and Franprix, "for an initial period of four months, possibly extendable by one month," says the group indebted to the tune of 6.4 billion euros at the end of 2022, including 4.5 on its activity in France.

Casino specifies that this procedure, which should allow it to conclude an agreement with its creditors for a potential restructuring of its debt, "concerns only the financial debt of the company" and certain subsidiaries. It "will have no impact on the group's relations with its operational partners (in particular its suppliers) and employees".

Trading resumes on Friday

This announcement was expected since Casino requested on Tuesday the suspension of the listing of its shares "pending the publication of a press release and until further notice". This listing resumed on Friday on the Paris Stock Exchange.

Casino, which employs more than 50,000 people in France and 200,000 worldwide under many brands, has been struggling for years to get out of debt, so far without success.

The group is nevertheless coveted by billionaire Daniel Kretinsky and the distribution group Teract, whose majority shareholder is the agri-food giant InVivo.

At the end of April, the third largest supermarket chain in France, Intermarché, joined the talks that were supposed to be concluded by the end of May.

In parallel with the opening of the entry into conciliation, Casino announced Friday an agreement with Intermarché for the sale of more than a hundred points of sale "from the perimeter Casino France", including hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores and representing a total of 1.15 billion euros in turnover.

This sale, which remains subject to the agreement of the employee representative bodies and the authorities, would be done in two stages, on the one hand a first part, weighing about 600 million euros of turnover including tax, whose "first disposals will take place by the end of this year".

A person on the shelves of a Casino hypermarket on April 28, 2023, in Villefranche-sur-Saône, Rhône © JEFF PACHOUD / AFP

And a second, weighing 550 million euros of turnover subject to a commitment by Casino to sell them "at the request" of Intermarché, "at the latest within three years", "this period may be accelerated by Casino".

For Intermarché, the operation makes it possible to "complete its national network", explained the boss of the group Les Mousquetaires / Intermarché Thierry Cotillard Friday at the microphone of Radio Classique, "and for Casino to refocus on its priority areas", Ile-de-France, in Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

"Future round table"

Casino specifies that, "at the signing of the binding agreements, the Les Mousquetaires group would pay Casino a first lump sum payment of 100 million euros, which would be deducted from the final price calculated on the market value of the assets".

In addition, Intermarché, which plans to convert some of these stores into discounters of its Netto brand, has "committed to acquire", if Casino requests it within three years, "an additional volume of stores representing 500 million euros of turnover".

Trolleys in an Intermarché in Bourg-Achard, Eure, May 18, 2023 © JOEL SAGET / AFP/Archives

The operation is a cause for concern for the representatives of the employees concerned by this change of brand because the group structures are different between Casino, an integrated group with a more structured social dialogue, and Intermarché, where social policy depends on each store owner since the brand is a group of independents.

Casino also specifies that Intermarché "will participate" in a "future round of funding of the Casino group, with an equity investment of 100 million euros", and that this agreement is "compatible with the discussions currently underway with Teract on the industrial project initiated a few months ago, as well as with any additional capital operations".

© 2023 AFP