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Rallye, the parent company of Casino, announced Monday the opening of a conciliation procedure with its creditors by the Paris Commercial Court, in order to move forward on the renegotiation of its debt.
The amicable discussions announced in April having failed, Rallye “decided to request the opening of a conciliation procedure in order to benefit from a more protective legal framework to continue discussions” with the creditors, which the court of Commerce agreed, according to a statement from the group.
“The President of the Paris Commercial Court today opened conciliation proceedings with regard to Rallye, Foncière Euris, Finatis and Euris, for an initial period of four months, extendable if necessary by an additional month”, and appointed two conciliators, continues the text.
This announcement does not directly concern the Casino distribution group, in financial difficulties, which has given itself until May 23, 5:00 p.m., before deciding on the advisability of a conciliation procedure with its creditors.
The cascade of holdings
Casino is indebted to the tune of 6.4 billion euros at the end of 2022 (including 4.5 billion on its French activity), to which are added more than three billion in debt for the parent company of the group, Rallye. Rallye, as well as the cascade of holding companies through which Jean-Charles Naouri holds control of the distributor, had benefited in May 2019 from a placement in safeguard procedure.
Casino, which employs more than 50,000 people in France and 200,000 worldwide under many brands, including Monoprix or Franprix, has been struggling for years to get out of debt, so far without success.
He has been officially discussing since February a possible merger with the Teract group, which mainly includes garden center brands (Jardiland, Gamm Vert), and whose majority shareholder is the agrifood giant InVivo, a union of 188 agricultural cooperatives.
Teract, whose general manager is Moez-Alexandre Zouari, a major franchisee of the Casino group in Ile-de-France and shareholder of the frozen food brand Picard, has around the table of its board of directors the founder of Free Xavier Niel and investment banker Matthieu Pigasse.
The situation is “no longer tenable”
At the end of April, the third supermarket chain in France, Intermarché, joined these discussions.
But another offer emerged, carried by the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, already a 10% shareholder in Casino, and who proposed on April 24 to inject 750 million euros into the group via a reserved capital increase of more than one billion euros.
He is allied for the occasion with an old friend of the CEO of Casino Jean-Charles Naouri, the French billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, owner of Fimalac – already third shareholder of Casino – and assured that in his eyes “the financial situation by Casino was “no longer tenable without rapid intervention”.