Casino's e-commerce arm plans share issue to raise 300 million euros

PARIS (Reuters) - Cnova NV, the e-commerce arm of French retailer Casino, plans to raise around 300 million euros ($367 million) in a sale of new shares to fund growth and boost its proportion of freely tradeable stock.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Casino supermarket is pictured in Paris, France, March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

Cnova’s Cdiscount website competes with international groups such as Amazon in France, with a marketplaces-style platform that links shoppers with third-party vendors selling household goods, electronic equipment and toys.

Cnova, the holding company for Cdiscount, said on Tuesday it planned to launch the new share issue by the end of the year.

The company also said certain existing shareholders of Cnova might decide to sell some of their shares to further increase its free float, which currently stands at 1%.

Cdiscount is fully controlled by Cnova, which in turn is 65% controlled by Casino and 34% by Casino’s Brazilian business Grupo Pao Acucar.

Casino intends to remain Cnova’s majority shareholder.

Cnova’s CEO Emmanuel Grenier told Reuters it was too early to say how much the Casino group would ultimately retain in Cnova as much hinged on market conditions.

Grenier said the funds from the 300 million euro capital increase would be used to speed up the growth of Cnova, which aims to triple its Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) to above 12 billion euros by 2025.

This target would be achieved thanks to the strong momentum in both Cnova’s marketplace and its tech-enabled B2B services platform Octopia, which Cnova wants to expand globally.

Parent company Casino, run and controlled by Jean-Charles Naouri, has been looking to boost its profitability and cash flow with asset sales, as well as finding savings through purchasing deals.

Naouri has been looking to ease the debts of both Casino and Rallye, the holding company behind the retailer.

As well as the Cdiscount fundraising, Casino has also said it is considering a stock market listing for its GreenYellow renewable energy arm.

Shares in Casino were flat in early afternoon trade, while Cnova shares were up 4.8%.

($1 = 0.8174 euros)

Reporting by Matthieu Protard and Sarah White, additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon. Editing by Jan Harvey, Mark Potter and Jane Merriman