In a press release issued at the end of the day, Sunday July 15, the trio of businessmen made up of Xavier Niel (also an individual shareholder of the group The world), Moez-Alexandre Zouari and Matthieu Pigasse announced that their alliance, titled 3F, “has decided not to submit an offer for the takeover of Groupe Casino”.
Two takeover offers had so far been made for the distributor, which is struggling with its debt and entered a conciliation at the end of May to try to renegotiate it: one by 3F, therefore, the other by the billionaire duo Daniel Kretinsky and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.
The first, on Sunday, considered that“following a worse than expected financial situation (from Casino), 3F had made specific requests” on several points, including a projection of liquidity and earnings needs in 2023, they did not “not received the requested information”.
Furthermore, the trio regrets that one of Casino’s creditors, Attestor, participated, according to them, “to a competing offer before the submission of offers”, a corrected version of which was to be finalized by Friday, July 13 at 9 p.m. for a review, Monday, July 17, by the group’s management and creditors. This action, criticize MM. Niel, Zouari and Pigasse, was conducted “without ever informing 3F, even after the submission of this competing offer”, “while he was engaged with 3F in a still valid offer, the validity of which had been extended in agreement with him (…) and while continuing to participate in 3F meetings. »
Corrected offer from Daniel Kretinsky and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière
“Responsible”are suing the three investors, 3F “refuses to participate in a biased process – the company having obviously already chosen its buyer -, a process which does not give an equal chance to all candidates and the best possible chance to the Casino group and its employees”. “3F remains open and available for Casino to be saved and become the champion it once was”they write at the end of the press release.
A few minutes after the 3F press release was sent, Daniel Kretinsky, author of the competing offer with Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, spoke in an interview with the economic daily The echoes. “Our interest in Casino has a rational dimension: we act as a shareholder driven by an industrial project”he explains in particular, on the eve of the examination of their offer by the group and its creditors.
“But there is also an emotional dimension: I am a Francophile; I note that my group is now more present in Germany and the United Kingdom than in France. Becoming, together with my friend Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, the controlling shareholder of Casino, which is a major player, would contribute to a rebalancing. »
Mr. Kretinsky, 48 years old and whose fortune amounts to 9.7 billion dollars (about 8.6 billion euros) according to Forbesbegan investing in France in 2018. He holds stakes in media (Release, Marianne…), distribution (Fnac Darty), publishing (Editis, agreement concluded in June) and industry (mainly in energy).
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The Czech businessman confirms, in the same interview, having submitted a corrected offer to the group during the weekend. The plan now provides for the injection of 1.2 billion euros of new money, against 1.35 billion in the initial proposal. “Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and I still plan to bring in 900 million euros in new money and creditors will have the possibility to subscribe to new shares – under the same conditions as us – up to almost 300 million euros”he says.
No sale of hypermarkets or CDiscount
The Casino group, which employs 200,000 people worldwide, including a quarter in France, announced that a “agreement in principle with the main creditors on the restructuring of the financial debt” must be concluded no later than July 27. The decision on the buyer should be “taken quickly”assured Mr. Kretinsky.
The two competing offers agreed on the fact that the resumption of activity should go through a drop in prices on the shelves, a lot of work on the commercial offer and the development of partnerships. The Kretinsky-Ladreit de Lacharrière duo does not plan to sell the hypermarkets or the online retailer CDiscount, according to his entourage. “It is unimaginable to close the headquarters of Saint-Etienne”historic cradle of casinos, also repeated Mr. Kretinsky in his interview with Echoes.
In June, employee representatives launched a “economic alert right” to obtain more information on the financial situation of the group while being concerned about the sale of 119 Casino stores to Intermarché. “We are reassured that the Niel-Pigasse-Zouari trio is withdrawing because we did not want a vulture investment fund. Kretinsky’s project is attractive on paper, but we remain vigilant about its feasibility.Thomas Meyer, UNSA union representative of the Casino group, told Agence France-Presse.
Casino must not only renegotiate its crushing debt, announced at 6.4 billion euros at the end of 2022. It must also raise at least 900 million euros in equity. The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, spoke for the first time on July 11, during questions to the government in the National Assembly, indicating that the State would ensure “the solidity of the industrial project” and in the future of the group’s 50,000 employees in France.