(Reuters) – The battle over the takeover of Casino took a turn on Sunday with the withdrawal of 3F Holding after the French distributor, in serious financial difficulties, had given candidates until the evening of July 14 to submit their revised offers. of restructuring.

Bringing together the three businessmen Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse and Moez-Alexandre Zouari, 3F announced in a press release that it would not submit an offer for the takeover of the Saint-Etienne group, denouncing a lack of information and a “biased” process, and leaving the field open to the rival proposal made by the Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky.

It was expected that Casino would present the revised offers to its creditors at the beginning of the week, after having made public, on July 4, the content of the offer of 3F and that associating the Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky with Marc Ladreit by Lacharrière.

3F said on Sunday that it had not received the information requested from Casino on “the projection of liquidity needs and results by the end of the year, but also on the results of Cdiscount in the second quarter, as on the whole off-balance sheet commitments that weigh on the group”.

Indicating in the press release that it had managed to “build a solid offer project” despite “various maneuvers” in the context of which its creditor Attestor participated in a competing offer, 3F explains its withdrawal by its refusal “to participate in a process biased”, Casino having according to him “visibly already chosen its buyer”.

This process, adds the investment vehicle of the Niel-Pigasse-Zouari trio, “does not give an equal chance to all candidates and the best possible chance to the Casino group and its employees”.

Casino, whose total debt reaches 6.4 billion euros, has set itself the goal of raising at least 900 million euros in new equity.

However, this is only one step in the vast restructuring plan of the Saint-Etienne distributor, which launched official negotiations with its creditors at the end of May as part of a conciliation procedure before the courts intended to restructure its debt.

Casino management and court-appointed mediators have set July 27 as the deadline to reach an agreement in principle on the terms of the financial restructuring.

Reuters learned last week from sources familiar with the matter that the two sides had presented to court-appointed conciliators, state officials and Casino management on Tuesday their pricing strategy, revenue targets and business and profitability or their vision for the group’s stores.

According to the details of the offers made public by Casino earlier this month, the plan proposed by Daniel Kretinsky totals 1.35 billion euros, eclipsing the proposal of 3F which had indicated that it wanted to inject 900 million euros into the band.

3F said in the statement released on Sunday to remain “open and available” for Casino to be saved.

(Written by Jean Terzian)

Copyright © 2023 Thomson Reuters