* French group Casino to gain majority of holding Wilkes
* Casino CEO took over as chairman of Wilkes in June
* Diniz can sell remaining stake from June 2014
SAO PAULO, Aug 6 Abilio Diniz, chairman of Grupo
Pão de Açúcar , agreed on Monday to sell part
of his stake in the holding company controlling Brazil's biggest
retailer, the next step in handing control to French group
Diniz exercised an option to sell Casino a 2.4 percent stake
in the investment holding company Wilkes for $10.5 million,
giving the French retailer a majority in the holding company as
laid out in a 2005 shareholder agreement.
Casino Chief Executive Jean-Charles Naouri took over in June
as chairman of Wilkes and appointed a majority of Pão de
Açúcar's board of directors after a ownership spat last year
with Diniz, whose father founded the Brazilian retailer.
With the handover, Casino has secured its hold on operations
in a market that may soon overtake France as the group's main
source of revenue, as a buoyant Brazilian middle class helps
offset weak growth in Europe. Brazil already represents about 44
percent of Casino sales and more than half its operating profit.
After exercising his first so-called put option under the
Wilkes shareholder agreement, Diniz has the right to sell the
rest of his 47.6 percent stake in the holding company to Casino
between June 2014 and June 2022.
Diniz and Naouri's decade-long relationship was shattered
last year when the Brazilian tycoon tried to orchestrate a
merger with Casino rival Carrefour.
Shares of Pão de Açúcar fell 1 percent in Sao Paulo on
Monday, while the benchmark Bovespa stock index rose 1.9