By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, Jan 8 (Reuters) – A consortium led by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky has won EU antitrust approval to take control of France’s debt-laden Casino, the supermarket operator said on Monday.

Current shareholders will be massively diluted under a restructuring deal which will end the 30-year reign of 74-year-old Jean-Charles Naouri, who controls Casino through his listed holding company Rallye.

Kretinsky’s consortium will own and control 53.7% of Casino‘s share capital under the deal, which calls for 1.2 billion euros f new money to be injected into Casino, as well as a 6.1 billion euro reduction of Casino’s debt.

The plan requires additional regulatory approvals including authorisation from the French finance ministry under foreign investment rules, and a waiver from the stock market regulator to avoid starting formal public takeover proceedings.

NEW STRIKE NOTICE

Casino

said

on Dec. 18 it had also entered exclusive talks to sell all of its big stores in France — 313 hypermarkets and supermarkets — to retailers Les Mousquetaires and Auchan Retail.

Trade unions, who have said they fear Casino could be dismantled as the stores are sold, said on Monday they had decided to issue a new strike notice starting Jan. 9 and ending Feb 5.

This comes as Casino shareholders and creditors have until Jan. 11 to approve an accelerated protection procedure Casino had entered into in October 2023 to help finalise the deal to restructure its debt. In December that procedure extended by two months to Feb. 25.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, writing by Tassilo Hummel; editing by Jason Neely)

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