Kesa Investor Knight Vinke Said to Suggest Comet Exit, Listing in Paris

Kesa Electricals Plc (KESA)’s largest investor asked the retailer to consider options that may include ending its unprofitable U.K. Comet operations and listing its shares in Paris, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Knight Vinke Asset Management LLC, which owns 18 percent of the London-based company’s shares, suggested listing in France, where Kesa’s Darty chain is the largest electronics retailer, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the matter is private. A Kesa spokesman declined to comment.

Knight Vinke will meet with Kesa’s board ahead of the retailer’s June 22 full-year results presentation, the person said. Kesa’s largest market by revenue is France, where stronger sales have compensated for declines in the U.K. Comet’s same- store sales fell 15 percent in the three months ended April 30.

Kesa may sell its developing-market businesses in Spain, Turkey and Italy along with Comet, two people familiar with the matter said on May 16. Kesa’s brokerage advisers are UBS AG and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Knight Vinke first disclosed a 3 percent stake in Kesa in June 2010. The activist investor this year questioned plans by Carrefour SA to list 25 percent of its property unit. The French retailer later said it would postpone the plan. Today, Knight Vinke said it opposes the French supermarket owner selling assets outside of Europe individually and that management should focus on improving business in the region.

Capital Research and Management Co. is Kesa’s second- largest shareholder after Knight Vinke with an 8.4 percent stake, followed by UBS Global Asset management with 7.4 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at sshannon4@bloomberg.net; Jacqueline Simmons in Paris at jackiem@bloomberg.net; Andrew Roberts in Paris at aroberts36@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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