Carrefour Strategy Unchanged Despite Move by Blue Capital

In response to last week’s announcement by Blue Capital that it had increased its ownership stake in French retailing giant Carrefour, the retailer has stated that its strategic plans are unchanged, according to a Reuters report.   Blue Capital, a holding company jointly owned by the holding company of French billionaire Bernard Arnault and U.S. property group Colony Capital, had raised its stake in Carrefour from 9.1 percent to 10.7 percent. Blue Capital is now the single largest shareholder in Carrefour, even though it first started buying into the retailer only a year ago, according to Reuters. Based on revenue, Carrefour is the world’s second-largest retailer, trailing only Wal-Mart.  Last year, a representative of Arnault and a Colony Capital executive won seats on Carrefour’s supervisory board, and Blue Capital has said it wants a third seat on the board.  At Carrefour’s shareholder meeting, executive chairman Jose Luis Duran said the company expects underlying sales growth of between 6 and 8 percent this year. He also stated that Carrefour intends to raise 1-1.5 billion euros through a private placement of shares in its Carrefour Property arm in the fourth quarter of this year. Though he has no inside knowledge of Blue Capital’s or Carrefour’s plans, Dan Fasulo, managing director at Real Capital Analytics, commented that “There’s no question that savvy investors are looking for value in real estate at many of these major international retailers.”  As an example, he cited the purchase by Vornado Realty Trust and others of Toys ‘R’ Us in 2005.