D-day for the takeover of Casino by Daniel Kretinsky and his allies – 03/27/2024 at 10:26 p.m.

Czech businessman and billionaire Daniel Kretinsky on January 22, 2020 in Paris (AFP / JOEL SAGET)

Epilogue of a long series and first day of a great challenge: the distributor Casino, managed for 20 years by Jean-Charles Naouri, passes on Wednesday into the hands of its buyers led by the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, and the new team will have a lot to do to revive it.

It was almost a year ago, April 24, 2023: Daniel Kretinsky, second shareholder of Casino behind the irremovable Jean-Charles Naouri (via Rallye and a cascade of holding companies), proposed to inject 750 million euros to rescue a group strangled by its debt, on condition of taking control and crushing most of the debts owed.

Since then, there have been numerous episodes: first a battle for the recovery, against the trio composed of Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse and Moez-Alexandre Zouari; then the sale of all of the Casino group’s activities in Latin America and almost all of the large format stores in France; then, an accelerated safeguard procedure… And finally this Wednesday, the dilution of current shareholders via capital increases which will allow Daniel Kretinsky, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and the Attestor fund to take control of Casino.

The distributor’s debt must be reduced from 7.4 billion euros at the end of 2023 to just over 2.6 billion euros, with repayment deadlines ranging from January 2027 to the end of March 2028.

– New administrators –

The new board of directors of the distributor, chaired by the former Macronist Secretary of State Laurent Pietraszewski and including among its members the general director Philippe Palazzi and Athina Onassis – descendant of the famous Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis – met on Wednesday in end of the day.

He proceeded to the appointment of the new executive committee of the distributor, among which the bosses of the Monoprix brands Guillaume Séneclauze, Casino Magali Daubinet-Salen, Franprix Vincent Doumerc, and CDiscount Thomas Métivier, remain in position, according to management to AFP on Wednesday evening.

Financial director David Lubek is replaced by Angélique Cristofari, formerly of Cora, as revealed by Challenges. Estelle Cherruau is promoted to human resources director, Alfred Hawawini, formerly of Metro like Philippe Palazzi, is appointed director of transformation and strategy, and Christophe Piednoël, formerly of Lactalis, is appointed director of communications, public affairs and CSR.

The CEO since 2005, former senior civil servant and investment banker Jean-Charles Naouri “will resign from all his functions with immediate effect” and “without severance pay”, the group had previously indicated. His plans for the future are not known. He is a director of Fimalac, the holding company of Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.

Daniel Kretinsky, an energy tycoon who is increasingly eyeing distribution, was delighted at the end of February “to give resources and therefore breathing space” to a group that had been “resized, reorganized and deleveraged”.

– 8,600 points of sale –

The facade of a Casino store in Ploubalay in western France, July 5, 2023 (AFP / Damien MEYER)

The facade of a Casino store in Ploubalay in western France, July 5, 2023 (AFP / Damien MEYER)

Casino’s activity has declined over the course of the sales in recent months.

The distributor’s French workforce will increase from 50,000 at the end of 2022 to 28,212 after the sale of numerous stores to its competitors Intermarché, Auchan and Carrefour. Furthermore, Casino almost no longer has an international presence.

In total, once the transfers already recorded have been fully finalized, the new group will have a turnover of around 9 billion euros – that is ten times less than Carrefour -, half of which via the Monoprix brand.

It will have 8,634 points of sale under the Monoprix, Naturalia, Franprix, Viva, Spar or Petit Casino brands.

The group is very strong in Ile-de-France, especially in Paris where it represents 54.5% of the retail sales area, according to a study by the Atelier Parisien d’urbanisme (Apur).

“It’s a Parisian group from the point of view of turnover, but from the point of view of the number of stores, we are a very provincial company”, assured in an interview with AFP and Le Progrès broadcast Wednesday evening the new general director, Philippe Palazzi.

He must go to Saint-Etienne on Thursday with his executive committee to meet the Casino teams at the end of the morning.

The buyers hope to restore good profitability fairly quickly, with the aim of multiplying the distributor’s “Ebitda (gross operating surplus) adjusted after rent” by more than 7 by 2028.

They intend to achieve this via a “competitive and stable” pricing policy, expansion through franchising or even optimization of logistics.

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