UPDATE 2-Retailer Casino vows to cut debt, raise French profit

miércoles 9 de marzo de 2016 11:10 GYT

* 2015 group operating profit down 35 pct, as expected

* CEO not ruling out exceeding 4 bln euros assets sale goal

* Confirms 2016 French EBIT goal of at least 500 mln euros (Recasts with CEO comments, analyst, updates shares)

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, March 9 (Reuters) - Retailer Casino responded to pressure from U.S. activist investor Muddy Waters with a renewed pledge to cut its debt using proceeds from disposals and the promise of improved profits and cash flow in its main French market.

Muddy Waters "shorted" Casino in December, saying the French group was "dangerously leveraged", sparking a share price fall. . Muddy Waters renewed its attack on Casino on March 7, casting more doubts on its revival in France.

Muddy Waters had no immediate response to the Casino comments on Wednesday.

Standard & Poor's also threatened in January to downgrade Casino's credit rating to junk status, citing high debts and weakness in Brazil, where it controls top retailer Grupo Pao de Acucar.

Chief Executive Jean-Charles Naouri said he was confident Casino would manage to sell 4 billion euros of assets to cut debt which totalled 6.1 billion at the end of 2015. He did not rule out exceeding that target.   Continuación...