French Casino Group to dispose off its Big C supermarket chain in Vietnam

Visual from Big C Vietnam website.

French mass retailer Casino Group has announced that it will dispose its Vietnam-based assets, the Big C retail outlets, as part of a global restructuring of its assets to pare debt.

The deal could fetch the firm up to 750 million euros ($813 million), according to a Bloomberg report.

The move is part of a restructuring plan to cut debt even as the group said, “Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s most promising markets” buoyed by a vibrant economy and a large, young population.

Casino Group will deleverage more than 2 billion euros to strengthen its financial flexibility, mainly through real estate transactions and disposal of non-core assets, including its operations in Vietnam, the company said, in a statement.

Its debt is reported to have reached $5.8 billion.

“Casino Group will thus continue to focus on its growth strategy in its key markets in France, Latam and Asia around buoyant assets,” the company said.

Thai conglomerates and Vietnamese real estate giant Vingroup are reportedly in the race for the Big C assets. An email DEALSTREETASIA sent to Casino Group seeking information on the speculation remained unanswered at time of publishing this article.

A representative from Big C Vietnam revealed to local media that the plan of the parent group will not affect its current operation and investment in the country.

Also Read: Vietnam: Vingroup acquires supermarket chain Maximark to take on foreign retailers

Property developer Vingroup owns a network of over 220 retail units called VinMart and VinMart+, along with 12 shopping centres in Vietnam. The company targets to develop up to 100 shopping malls and thousands of convenience stores by 2020.

Meanwhile, a number of Thai retail investors are strengthening their foothold in the Vietnamese market in 2015. Central Group earlier this year acquired a major minority stake in Vietnam’s leading electronics retailer Nguyen Kim, after opening two Robins shopping malls in the country. It was also rumoured that Central Group eyed the acquisition of a second local player, Pico.

Also Read: Thai Central Group acquires VN’s Nguyen Kim

In addition, Berli Jucker, another Thai syndicate, reached a deal to buy Metro Cash&Carry Vietnam chain from Germany’s Metro Group for 655 million euros in 2014, but the transaction was later rejected by its shareholders.

Metro Group was the first European retailer to plan to sell its Vietnamese operations..

Related story: Thailand retail player Berli Jucker eyes acquisitions in ASEAN

Big C supermarket chain entered Vietnam in 1998, being one of the maiden retail players in this Southeast Asian country. It currently runs over 30 hypermarkets across the country. In addition to brick-and-mortar retailing, Casino Group is also implementing e-commerce website Cdiscount.vn.

Being one of the five biggest retailers in Vietnam, Big C enjoyed 312 million euro revenue during the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, the French company said one of the deleveraging plan’s components consists in externalising the value of real estate portfolio through the participation of investors to its real estate activities in Thailand and Colombia.

In Thailand, Big C owns almost 800,000 sqm of gross leasable area in its shopping malls. Big C Thailand and Éxito (Colombia) brands will continue to fully consolidate their real estate activities.

Big C was originally Thailand’s second largest mass retailer, founded by Central Group, before being acquired by the French group in 1999.

The Thai subsidiary of Casino Group, Big C, is looking at fundraising through a real estate investment trust (REIT) in 2016. Its expansion plan includes the launch of six new hypermarkets, three branches of Big C Markets and 75 branches of Mini Big C next year.

Also Read:

Thai hypermarket chain Big C to launch REIT in 2016

Consumer goods sector to lead the M&A wave in Vietnam

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.