Daniel Křetínský has acquired a 4.63% stake in French mass retailer Casino, Guichard-Perrachon.
The duo, who bought the stake via their Vesa Equity Investment company, become Casino’s second-largest shareholder at a time CEO and controlling shareholder Jean-Charles Naouri is hunting for ways to ease the company’s debts – and those of parent company Rallye – in part through asset sales.
In a joint statement, Kretinsky, who also owns stakes in French newspaper Le Monde and Czech soccer club Sparta Prague, described Casino as “one of the European leaders best placed to respond to the (retail) sector’s profound transformation.”
Rallye was placed under protection from creditors in May as Naouri sought to avoid the group’s collapse.
While Casino itself was not placed under bankruptcy protection, it was hit with downgrades that left its credit rating deeper in junk territory. Rating agencies Moody’s and S&P cited concerns over debts at Casino’s parent companies.
Casino’s brands range from Geant hypermarkets and Leader Price budget stores to online retailer Cdiscount. It also has a large retail business in Brazil.