PARIS (Reuters) -French luxury goods billionaire Bernard Arnault has sold out of supermarket group Carrefour, the retailer he first invested in 14 years ago and whose potential takeover by Canada’s Couche-Tard unravelled earlier this year.
Arnault held a 5.7% stake via his Financiere Agache holding company, which raised 724 million euros ($854 million) by selling shares on the market in an accelerated bookbuilding process, bookrunner Societe Generale said on Wednesday.
Carrefour shares were down just over 5% in early trading.
The Agache stake was sold at 16 euros per share, after Arnault, alongside Colony Capital and Axon Capital first took a 9.8% holding in 2007 at an average price of 47 euros per share.
Carrefour has been through several transformations, with shareholders benefiting as it spun-off businesses, including its DUA supermaket chain. Arnault was one of its three big shareholders, along with the Moulin family and Brazilian businessman Abilio dos Santos Diniz.
The company in May renewed the mandate of Chairman and Chief Executive Alexandre Bompard, who has spearheaded a turnaround plan involving cost cuts and an e-commerce push to boost sales and profits, for another three years.
Arnault, France’s richest man, was supportive of Bompard in January when the executive was in talks with Canada’s Couche-Tard about a takeover deal, sources said at the time. Couche-Tard eventually dropped its bid of nearly $20 billion for Carrefour after it ran into opposition from the French government.
Bompard has since carried out the acquisition of Grupo BIG, valued at around $1.3 billion, and asserted Carrefour was viable on its own.
Agache is focused on investments in fashion and luxury, and took a stake in sandal maker Birkenstock in February.
The vehicle had already begun to sell down part of its Carrefour stake in 2020.
($1 = 0.8478 euros)
(Reporting by Sarah WhiteEditing by David Goodman and Barbara Lewis)