The European Union has granted antitrust approval to a consortium headed by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky to take control of the French supermarket chain Casino. The move paves the way for a significant restructuring of the chain’s finances. 

This concludes the three-decade leadership of Jean-Charles Naouri and will see Kretinsky’s group holding a 53.7% stake in Casino’s share capital. 

Casino will receive €1.2bn ($1.3bn) of new capital and will see its debt reduce by €6.1bn.  

The consortium comprises EP Equity Investment III, a company controlled by Kretinsky, along with Fimalac and Attestor.  

Once the restructuring is complete, Casino will be controlled by the consortium through a special-purpose vehicle controlled by EP Equity Investment III. 

The deal is subject to further regulatory clearances, including from the French finance ministry and a concession from the stock market regulator to bypass mandatory public takeover protocols. 

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The EU approval follows soon after the French retail group revealed that a consortium led by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky will own and control 53.7% of its share capital post-restructure.  

On 18 December 2023, Casino also announced it had commenced exclusive negotiations to divest its large-scale French retail operations to Les Mousquetaires and Auchan Retail.  

The deal includes 313 hypermarkets and supermarkets with a fixed enterprise value of €1.35bn, excluding real estate. 

The restructuring plan comes at a critical juncture as Casino’s shareholders and creditors face a deadline of 11 January 2024 to sanction an expedited safeguard procedure initiated in October 2023.  

The procedure, aimed at facilitating the debt restructuring, has recently been extended by two months with a new deadline of 25 February.