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Carrefour Said to Weigh Turkish Combination With Migros

Carrefour SA, the world’s second-largest retailer, is considering a combination of its Turkish business with Migros Ticaret AS, a rival supermarket chain owned by private equity firm BC Partners Ltd., three people with knowledge of the situation said.

The talks are in very early stages and the combination is one of several options Carrefour is exploring for its Turkish operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential. Carrefour has not made a decision about its strategy in Turkey, a person said.

The French retailer is reviewing its businesses in countries where it can’t reach a leadership position, as new Chief Executive Officer Georges Plassat seeks to generate cash and reduce debt after four years of declining operating income.

A combination between Carrefour and Sabanci’s joint venture and Migros would create the largest retailer in Turkey. Carrefour’s Turkish unit has a market capitalization of 1.9 billion Turkish lira ($1 billion), while Migros has a market capitalization of 3.3 billion lira.

Carrefour operates its Turkish division through CarrefourSa Carrefour Sabanci Ticaret Merkezi AS, which owns 58 percent of a joint venture with Haci Omer Sabanci Holding AS.

A spokeswoman for BC declined to comment. Officials at Sabanci were not available for comment. A spokesman for Carrefour declined to comment immediately.

Sabanci may attempt to buy Carrefour out of its Turkish business, Erste Bank AG analysts wrote in a note this month. The Turkish company hired Rothschild to review its strategic options for the venture and expects to complete a deal this year, CEO Zafer Kurtul said in February.

Right of Refusal

Both Carrefour and Sabanci have the right of first refusal if the other seeks to sell its part of the business, one person with knowledge of the situation said.

BC Partners, a London-based private equity firm, bought a controlling stake in Migros, based in Istanbul, in 2008, in a transaction valuing Migros at 2 billion euros including debt, according to the firm’s website.

Typically, private equity firms such as BC hold assets for three to five years before selling them.

Carrefour, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, announced plans in August to exit Singapore by the end of the year and paid 220 million euros ($235 million) to leave Greece. It has also put Poland and Indonesia under review for possible sales.

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