Casino Gets a Short Leash

Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA  announced late Tuesday that it was working on a 3.5 billion-euro ($3.9 billion) refinancing, a Bloomberg View reported. That should be positive for the owner of France’s famous Monoprix and Franprix chains. But as usual with the sprawling retail group, there is probably more here than meets the eye. At first glance the move looks like sensible balance sheet management. The company has about 500 million euros of bonds maturing in March 2020, and more over the next few years. But the refinancing comes at a price. First of all, it is secured over Casino’s main operating assets in France and Latin America, as well as 1 billion euros of real estate. Then, what’s grabbed the most attention, it’s conditioned on restrictions to future dividend payments to shareholders — the largest of which remains Rallye SA, the investment vehicle of Jean-Charles Naouri. Read more