French retailers Intermarche and Auchan to buy 320 Casino stores – Les Echos

PARIS (Reuters) -French retailers Intermarche and Auchan are set to buy 320 stores of struggling retailer Casino, French financial daily Les Echos reported on Monday.

The paper reported that the two groups’ joint bid was higher than bids received from Germany’s Lidl and French rival Carrefour.

A spokesperson at Casino said a press release would be published soon.

Auchan, Intermarche, Carrefour and Lidl declined to comment.

Casino, which has warned of likely losses for 2023 for its core French business, is racing to finalise a bailout to avoid bankruptcy early next year.

A new leadership team formed around Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is set to take control of Casino, which was brought to the verge of default after years of debt-fuelled acquisitions and losing market share to rivals.

Casino said last month it had received preliminary, indicative offers from several buyers for an unspecified number of hypermarkets and supermarkets it had put up for sale as its situation deteriorated.

Trading in Casino shares has been suspended since earlier on Monday at the company’s request and pending a press release, stock exchange operator Euronext said.

Casino has been losing market share to sector leader E. Leclerc as well as Les Mousquetaires and U supermarkets, according to Kantar data.

Trade unions have said they fear Casino could be dismantled as its hyper- and supermarkets are sold.

(Reporting by Nicolas Delame, Helen Reid, Blandine Henault;Writing by GV De Clercq and Ingrid Melander;Editing by Silvia Aloisi)