Casino in talks to sell discount chain Leader Price to Aldi

Debt-laden French retailer Casino is in talks to sell its French discount store chain Leader Price to German low-cost rival Aldi.

The move, which confirms a report by French daily Les Echos, comes as Casino CEO and controlling shareholder Jean-Charles Naouri is hunting for ways to ease the company’s debts – and those of parent company Rallye – in part via asset sales.

Casino said in a statement that following an expression of interest from Aldi France, the two groups had “entered into discussions with a view to have Aldi France submit a binding offer,”

Les Echos said earlier that Casino was poised to sell Leader Price, which had 2018 sales of 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion), to Aldi in a deal estimated to be worth 400 million euros.

A sale of Leader Price was expected by analysts after Casino said last month it was targeting the sale of 2 billion euros worth of assets in addition to the 2.5 billion initially sought to reduce its debt burden.

The retailer has mandated BNP Paribas to handle a possible deal, Les Echos added.

Source: uk.reuters.com

Amazon extends food tie-up with British supermarket Morrisons

Amazon and Morrisons have agreed to extend a partnership which already allows customers to order their shopping from the smallest of Britain’s big four supermarket groups and have it delivered by the U.S. online giant.

Periodically mooted as a possible bidder for Morrisons, Amazon has been slowly extending its food service in Britain, but market research firm Kantar Worldpanel estimates its market share is so far less than 1%.

The new Amazon agreement was for “a number of years rather than on a rolling basis, and will be exploring new opportunities to innovate and improve the shopping experience,” Bradford, northern England, based Morrisons said.

Morrisons, which has a 10.1% market share, trails market leader TescoSainsbury’s and Walmart’s Asda in annual sales.

It first tied up with Amazon in 2016 with a wholesale supply deal, whose scope has grown. In June the companies agreed to expand the “Morrisons store on Prime Now” service to more cities across Britain, including Glasgow and Newcastle.

Doug Gurr, Amazon’s UK country manager, said its relationship with Morrisons was an important part of its UK grocery growth plan.

Customers can already order a full Morrisons shop online, which is then picked at a local Morrisons store, and delivered by Amazon. There is also an option for one hour delivery.

Although Morrisons Chief Executive David Potts was vague on what the exploration would entail and declined to provide the agreement’s duration, he said as a wholesaler to Amazon the British company could be “part of their ambitions”.

“When you’re exploring, life can be a bit unclear … We achieve capital light growth by leveraging partners’ knowhow and assets,” he told reporters.

Analysts have also suggested Morrisons could be a candidate for a takeover by an overseas private equity firm, given the 24% fall in its share price over the last year and the weakness of the pound making deals cheaper.

Source: uk.reuters.com