French retailer Casino agrees deal for Exito expansion in Colombia

PARIS Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:46am EST

PARIS Feb 10 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino's Exito unit has agreed to buy 19 of Colombia's Super Inter stores, with an option on its remaining 31 outlets, to speed its expansion in the fast-growing Latin American market.

Created in 1992, Super Inter is an independent retailer in the Cali and coffee regions, with 2013 sales estimated at about $425 million, Casino said in a statement announcing the deal.

Casino has operated in Colombia through Exito since 1999. Exito had 427 stores in 83 towns and cities across the country at the end of 2012. Most are hypermarkets and supermarkets, but it also operates in the convenience and discount segments.

Exito, which is 54.8 percent controlled by Casino, is Colombia's largest food retailer with a 43 percent market share and sales of 3.859 billion euros ($5.26 billion) in 2012.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Exito will buy 19 stores in 2014 and operate the other 31 with an option to buy in 2015.

In addition to boosting Exito's presence in Colombia, Casino said the transaction will accelerate Exito's development in the discount segment, complementing its Surtimax outlets.

The cash deal, which is subject to approval from the Colombian competition regulator, will increase Exito's net earnings from the first year, the statement said.

In Latin America, Casino operates in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay. The region accounted for 53 percent of group trading profit of a little more than 2 billion euros in 2012.

Casino shares were up 0.5 percent at 76.20 euros by 0830 GMT, compared with a 0.25 percent rise for the European retail sector. ($1 = 0.7343 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by David Goodman)