SAO PAULO/PARIS (Reuters) - Brazilian tycoon Abilio Diniz is in talks to raise his 5.07 percent stake in Carrefour SA (CARR.PA) and has the support of major shareholders to take a board seat in the retailer, a source with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday.
Diniz, who is Carrefour’s fourth-biggest shareholder behind France’s Moulin family, billionaire Bernard Arnault and private equity firm Colony Capital, could be nominated to the board at a meeting in July, said the source, who requested anonymity since the plans remain private.
The Brazilian tycoon, who earlier in the day announced that his Carrefour stake doubled from 2.4 percent recently, is in talks to buy part or all of Arnault’s stake, the source said. A second source with knowledge of Diniz’s thinking said he wants a board seat at the Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based firm.
Peninsula Participações, the investment vehicle managing Diniz’s fortune, denied that Diniz has plans to up his Carrefour stake, seek a board seat or is in talks with Arnault over the latter’s stake. Arnault’s press office declined to comment. Efforts to reach the other companies were unsuccessful.
The Moulins, who own French department store Galeries Lafayette SA [GALP.UL], are Carrefour’s top shareholder with a 9.5 percent stake. Groupe Arnault and Colony each have a stake of around 7 percent.
To fund a purchase of more Carrefour shares, Diniz is considering selling assets that Peninsula has, such as a large portfolio of commercial properties and even a stake in BRF SA (BRFS3.SA), the world’s largest poultry producer, said the first source.
In an email to Reuters, Peninsula denied that it has intentions to sell its stake in BRF.
Other alternatives include raising capital from a pool of investors from sovereign wealth funds to wealthy families in Brazil, the same source added. The source, however, declined to name any of those potential investors.
In December 2014, Diniz purchased a 10 percent stake in Carrefour’s Brazilian unit. He has an option to raise that stake to 16 percent over five years.
That investment was seen as a first step toward a possible separate listing for the unit, as Europe’s largest retailer looks to raise cash to accelerate growth in its second-largest market after France.
Additional reporting by Pascale Denis in Paris, Roberto Samora and Alberto Alerigi Jr in São Paulo; Editing by James Regan and Lisa Shumaker