PROMODES BID TO BUY CASINO FAILS

CAEN, France (FNS) -- French food retailer Promodes here last week launched a $4.54 billion hostile takeover attempt for its rival Casino, Saint Etiene, but the bid was rejected. Officials at Rallye, a holding company that owns 28% of Casino, said the chain was not for sale at any price. Christian Couvreaux, Casino's chief executive officer, said the two companies were pursuing different strategies

CAEN, France (FNS) -- French food retailer Promodes here last week launched a $4.54 billion hostile takeover attempt for its rival Casino, Saint Etiene, but the bid was rejected. Officials at Rallye, a holding company that owns 28% of Casino, said the chain was not for sale at any price. Christian Couvreaux, Casino's chief executive officer, said the two companies were pursuing different strategies and that Casino could compete without being taken over.

Casino instead acquired two smaller rivals from TLC Beatrice International Holdings of the United States: Franprix, which operates 416 supermarkets near Paris; and Leader Price, which has 241 deep-discount stores in the same area. In addition to the $457.5 million it paid for the chains, Casino will assume $114.4 million in debt.

The Promodes-Casino merger, had it taken place, would have resulted in the largest food retailer in France, with 13.3% market share, surpassing Intermarche, which has a 13.1% share.