Casino to buy out Cnova unit as Brazil forces U-turn
* Casino shares rise 8 pct on plan to take Cnova private
* Brazil Via Varejo to absorb Cnova's Brazilian business
* Cnova to focus on French e-commerce market
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, May 12 (Reuters) - Casino said on Thursday it would spend up to $196 million to take its e-commerce unit Cnova private, nearly two years after listing it on Nasdaq as difficulties in Brazil derailed plans to create a broad e-commerce business.
Casino said it would reorganise Cnova's troubled business in Brazil, merging it with another of its units, appliance retailer Via Varejo SA, and would refocus Cnova on France, the latest step in the French retailer's turnaround efforts.
The news, which confirmed earlier Reuters reports, lifted Casino shares by as much as 8 percent as investors welcomed reduced exposure to recession-hit Brazil. .
"This transaction is aimed at simplifying Casino' group structure and would allow Cnova to refocus through CDiscount on e-commerce in France, a market where it has a proven leadership position and clear growth prospects," the statement said.
In December U.S. activist investor Muddy Waters said that Casino was "dangerously leveraged" and Standard & Poor's in March cut Casino's credit rating to junk, notably citing weakness in Brazil. Continuación...