December 5, 2018 / 9:46 AM / 6 days ago

Spanish retailer DIA's interim chairman leaves board to focus on turnaround

MADRID, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Spanish retailer DIA’s interim chairman, who represents its main shareholder LetterOne, is stepping down from the board to focus on relaunching the struggling business, DIA and LetterOne said.

A familiar sight on Spanish high streets, the supermarket chain has steadily lost market share in the past five years, facing fierce competition for shoppers who have lost enthusiasm for its low-cost model since the country emerged from recession.

LetterOne, an investment vehicle owned by Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman, has a 29 percent stake in the firm, a whisker below the 30 percent threshold at which Spanish law dictates an investor must launch a takeover.

The fund’s managing partner Stephan DuCharme took over as DIA’s interim chairman in October, when the retailer issued its third profit warning in a year.

“LetterOne has been exploring the scenarios in which it can best help DIA ... to set out and develop a sustainable long-term plan,” the fund said in a statement late on Tuesday.

DuCharme quit the board to work on “offering the best advice for this plan” from within LetterOne.

DIA’s already heavily-shorted stock was 6.5 percent lower on the day at 0940 GMT, extending losses registered on Tuesday. It has lost 85 percent of its market value so far this year.

Affirming its support for DIA, LetterOne said it remained a minority shareholder, and would soon present a candidate to take DuCharme’s board seat, one of three it holds at DIA.

DIA announced a string of senior management changes earlier on Tuesday. (Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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