Questioned by the deputy of the Loire Quentin Bataillon (Renaissance), the Minister of the Economy spoke for the first time on the future of Casino, which "has been encountering for several months major operational and financial difficulties".

In particular, he estimated that the group's employees, 200,000 worldwide, a quarter of whom are France, "do not have to pay for the mistakes that may have been made by management".

Regarding the takeover offers, one from the duo of billionaire shareholders of the distributor, Daniel Kretinsky and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, the other from the trio Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse, Moez-Alexandre Zouari, the Minister of Economy said that "two proposals have been made, both are solid but the State does not have to take sides for one proposal or another".

He said that the State will have "two points of attention, the solidity of the industrial project" on the one hand, and on the other employment, including "the future of the 50,000 employees of the group" in France as well as "the future of the 1,500 employees of the group in Saint-Etienne".

"There is no question that the historic headquarters of the group is threatened by the takeover, regardless of the buyer who will be chosen," said Bruno Le Maire.

He recalled that the State had granted the distributor a deferral of social security and tax charges, for a total amount of about 300 million euros, due for the period from May to September 2023. "This aid will have to be reimbursed by the buyers to the State," said the minister.

Casino, which celebrates its 125th anniversary in this uncertain context, entered at the end of May in conciliation procedure until October 25 at the latest, in order to renegotiate with its creditors its debt, which amounts to 6.4 billion euros of net debt.

© 2023 AFP