Casino announces fresh stake sale in Brazil's Assai in push to lower debt load

By Scott Kanowsky -- Casino Guichard-Perrachon (EPA:CASP) unveiled a fresh stake sale in Brazilian cash-and-carry chain Assai (BVMF:ASAI3) as part of the French supermarket group's ongoing plan to address its sizeable debt pile.

The company, which is controlled by businessman Jean-Charles Naouri, is looking to complete a €4.5 billion asset disposal program by the end of the year. Net debt - a major source of investor concern that Casino has vowed to tackle - rose to €6.4B at the end of 2022 from €5.9B on the final day of the previous year. The uptick was the result of higher debt at Assai, the company added.

On Friday, Casino announced that it sold 254 million of the shares it held in Assai at a selling price of BRL 16 per share. The transaction, which is expected to close on March 21, raises about BRL 4.06B (€723.2M) for Casino, it added.

Following the move, Casino's stake will be lowered to 11.7%, meaning it will no longer have a controlling interest in Assai. Casino previously sold 140.8M shares in the business, representing 10.4% of the firm's share capital, last November in a deal worth BRL 2.7B.

Shares in Casino moved higher in early European trading on Friday but have fallen by more than 51% over the past one-year period.

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