PARIS, May 9 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino plans to sell more assets in the coming months, having already raised 4.2 billion euros by parting with businesses in Thailand and Vietnam, its chief executive said in a newspaper interview.
Jean-Charles Naouri also told Le Figaro that four of of the 4.2 billion euros raised would be dedicated to cut debt, while Casino’s board has yet to decide how it would use excess cash.
Simplification of the group’s structure was another key priority for Casino, Naouri said.
In December, U.S. activist investor Muddy Waters said Casino was “dangerously leveraged” and Standard & Poor’s in March cut Casino’s credit rating to junk, notably citing weakness in Brazil.
Casino has rejected the criticism, pledging to cut debt using proceeds from disposals, and promising improved profits and cash flow in its main French market.
Casino has already announced plans to sell real estate assets in Colombia, a project that Naouri said should be executed in the coming months.
“We also have other asset disposal plans in the coming months worth several hundreds of millions of euros,” he said.
Naouri said he was “reasonably confident” that Casino’s non-food business in Brazil, which has been the most vulnerable to the recession, would return to growth during the course of 2016.
In France, guidance for 2016 current operating profit of 500 million euros was “credible and reasonable”, he said. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Geert De Clercq)