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Carrefour Sells Its Greek Stake

Carrefour, Europe's biggest retailer, announced on Friday that it was selling its stake in its Greek joint venture to local partner Marinopoulos, which will become its franchisee. Carrefour, which saw first-quarter sales plunge 16 percent in Greece, said it was taking a 220m euro mostly non-cash charge as a result of the deal.

The world's second-biggest retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores made 2.2bn euros of sales in Greece last year, but Espirito Santo analysts estimate the business lost around 40m euros.

"It's not a bad move even if it costs them money," said analyst Laurence Hoffman from Oddo Securities.

The sale is one of the first decisions by Carrefour's new boss Georges Plassat, who is due to address shareholders for the first time on Monday amid hopes he will give some clues on his turnaround plan for a group that has been hit hard by its exposure to sluggish European markets.

"It's quite positive," said another analyst who declined to be named. "Greece was a market which had been dragging on them. They have their hands full with other projects. It's better for them to concentrate on saving their French operations."

Carrefour shares were up 2.8 percent in early trading in Paris, leading the benchmark CAC40, though they are still down 20 percent so far this year.

Carrefour said the sale would allow the joint venture, which also operates in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Albania and other Balkan countries, "to meet the challenges of Greece's prevailing economic environment."
Carrefour Marinopoulos, formed in 1999, will continue to operate as a franchisee of Carrefour in those countries, with the French company providing products in exchange for a fee.

The venture has 41 hypermarkets, 287 supermarkets and 479 convenience stores in Greece and Cyprus.

Marinopoulos also has partnerships with other global brands in Greece, including Marks & Spencer, Gap, Starbucks and Sephora.

Source: Reuters
Thursday, June 21, 2012