March 26, 2020 / 7:52 AM / 2 months ago

Casino suspends guidance due to coronavirus crisis

PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino , battling investor concern over its high debt and weak cash position, said on Thursday it was suspending its financial guidance for 2020 and beyond due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Casino said it had achieved a 2019 group operating profit of 1.292 billion euros ($1.41 billion), down 3.1% at constant exchange rates.

It said it would aim to keep costs and capital expenditure under control and push on with its asset disposal plan to reduce debt.

“We cannot reiterate our financial guidance in an economic climate that is so uncertain. But we stay mobilised regarding all our objectives such as cost cuts, inventories, or capex,” Finance Director David Lubek said on a call.

Excluding tax credits in Brazil, where it controls top retailer Grupo Pao de Aucucar, its 2019 consolidated trading profit was up 5.5% at constant exchange rates.

Casino last week agreed to sell 567 discount Leader Price stores in France, plus three warehouses, to German rival Aldi in a deal with an enterprise value of 735 million euros.

$1 = 0.9168 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Jason Neely

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