Tensions over Carrefour’s contentious plan to merge its Brazilian assets with those co-owned by a French rival have intensified after a shareholder lobby group raised concerns with Paris regulators about the deal.
Deminor, a group which acts on behalf of minority investors, criticised Carrefour’s communication over discussions with the Brazilian co-owner of Grupo Pão de Açúcar in an open letter to Lars Olofsson, the retailer’s chief executive, and other board members.
“It seems that essential information was not transmitted to the market,” Fabrice Rémon, chief executive of Deminor wrote in the document, also sent to the AMF, the French stock market regulator.
The proposed merger is the cause of a high-profile spat between Carrefour and Casino , which exercises co-control of GPA with its Brazilian partner – the Diniz Group through an investment holding company and argues discussions about a deal go against an agreement to mutually decide on GPA’s strategy at this level.
Shares in Carrefour fell €3.54 to €24.15, although analysts attributed the fall of almost 13 per cent to the group’s trading without the value of Dia, its Spanish discount chain, after the unit was listed in Madrid.
Shares in Dia, the world’s third-largest hard discount store by sales, fell slightly below their reference price of €3.50 on their first day of trading. Carrefour shareholders received one Dia share for each one they hold in the French retailer after approving the spin-off plan in June. French-focused funds and index trackers unable to hold non-Paris listed shares will be forced to sell the Dia stock.
Deminor also raised concerns over a proposed shareholders’ agreement between Gama, a company founded by Brazilian investors who tabled the merger proposal, and Carrefour’s dominant shareholders, Colony Capital of the US and Groupe Arnault, the investment arm of French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault.
It argued that Blue Capital, an investment vehicle held by Mr Arnault and Colony, would “see its power strengthened” without investing further in Carrefour.
Carrefour called the accusations “totally unfounded” and said the merger could be put to a shareholder vote if it were to go ahead. At the time of the most recent shareholder meeting there was no material information that warranted communication by Carrefour, a spokesman said.
Source : Financial Times