France's Casino confirms talks to sell stores

French supermarket group Casino said on Monday that it had received several expressions of interest for its stores, with the heavily indebted company recently avoiding bankruptcy.

The company declined to name the bidders or number of stores it intends to sell.

Casino, which currently operates 291 supermarkets including 60 franchises and 52 large-scale hypermarkets, has reportedly been in talks to sell a number of stores to Les Mousquetaires-owned Intermarche, according to local paper Les Echos, with all interested parties given a Wednesday deadline to submit bids.

The company is currently undergoing a period of rebuilding after narrowly avoiding bankruptcy in October via a debt restructuring with its main creditors. Any disposal of stores must be approved by the consortium in accordance with the lock-up agreement reached with creditors, Casino said.

In addition to its own branded stores, Casino owns and operates high-end supermarket chain Monoprix and convenience store business Franprix in France. It also has a significant presence in Brazil, its second-largest market, where it owns GPA.

The company last week warned that year-end losses for its French business is likely as a result of slower than expected turnaround at its hypermarkets.

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