DIA Said to Hire BNP to Explore Sale of French Business

Distribuidora Internacional de Alimentacion SA, a Spanish discounter, is working with BNP Paribas SA on a potential sale of its French business as the company struggles to grow in the country, according to people familiar with the matter.

DIA, as the Madrid-based retailer that was spun off from Carrefour SA is known, is exploring options including a divestment of its 865 French stores as early as this year, said the people, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. One option is to sell the French business by regions, one of the people said.

Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Curras reiterated this month that the company decided to “open new alternatives” for the French business, without specifying the plans. DIA’s adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in France plunged 36 percent last year to 60.2 million euros ($83 million) as net sales fell 11 percent to 1.9 billion euros. That compares with growth in both measures for the whole group.

The Spanish company’s shares rose 3.5 percent to 6.57 euros in Madrid, the biggest gain since July last year, and valuing the company at 4.3 billion euros. DIA was the best performing stock on Spain’s benchmark IBEX 35 index today.

DIA, which had 7,328 stores worldwide at the end of 2013 including the Schlecker and Clarel outlets, is focusing on growth in markets such as Iberia, Argentina and Brazil, while closing stores in countries such as China. Last year, it sold its supermarket joint venture in Turkey to Yildiz Holding AS, ending a 14-year presence in the country.

Representatives at DIA and BNP Paribas declined to comment.

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