September 24, 2018 / 5:13 AM / 3 months ago

Retailer Casino says it rejected Carrefour approach; Carrefour also denies

PARIS, Sept 24 (Reuters) - French supermarket retailer Casino, whose shares have hit by concerns over its debts, said it had rejected an approach from domestic rival Carrefour - something that Carrefour itself denied.

Casino said it had been contacted by Carrefour in recent days over a possible tie-up, but noted regulatory hurdles to any such deal, given the relative dominance of the two companies in the French domestic supermarket sector.

“The board unanimously reiterated its entire confidence in Casino’s strategy for value creation based on its unique market positioning,” Casino said in a statement.

“The board of directors also acknowledged the barriers, in France and in Brazil, to a combination with Carrefour, especially in terms of competition and employment. The board unanimously decided to reject Carrefour’s approach,” added Casino.

However, Carrefour denied in a separate statement having ever “solicited” Casino.

“Carrefour denies having solicited Casino and is surprised that Casino’s board of directors would have been submitted a merger proposal that does not exist,” Carrefour said in a statement.

Casino has come under pressure over the debts at the company and debts at parent holding group Rallye.

Rallye, through which Chief Executive Jean-Charles Naouri controls Casino, needs to repay over 600 million euros ($704.5 million) worth of bonds in October and 300 million euros worth in March.

Last week, five banks granted Rallye a new 500 million euros ($582 million) credit line. ($1 = 0.8516 euros) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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