Grocer Casino to Take E-Commerce Unit to Africa With Bollore

Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA, the French owner of Monoprix and Big C supermarkets, will extend its Cdiscount e-commerce platform to Africa in a joint venture with freight company Bollore SA.

The first branded website is planned in the Ivory Coast this summer, the companies said today in a statement. The partnership draws on “the expertise of the leaders of e-commerce in France and the skills of the logistics leader in Africa,” they said. Financial details weren’t disclosed.

Casino is following consumers online as the Web makes shopping more convenient. The Saint Etienne, France-based retailer said last month it will pool e-commerce assets from Brazil to Vietnam and possibly spin them off in a U.S. stock offering to finance further expansion.

Cdiscount, which opened websites in Colombia, Thailand and Vietnam in the first quarter, sells everything from lingerie to scooters. It had business volumes -- sales plus the value of other parties’ transactions on the site -- of $2.1 billion last year.

Casino follows domestic rival Carrefour SA in turning to Africa for growth. Carrefour, based in Boulogne Billancourt, entered a partnership last year with distributor CFAO SA to open shops in eight African countries by 2015, starting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Dwarfing France

Africa’s top 18 cities will have combined spending power of $1.3 trillion by 2030, compared with estimated consumption of $539 billion in France, McKinsey & Co. estimates. In e-commerce, Casino and Bollore will compete with African businesses boosting their online offerings, including Massmart Holdings Ltd., owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer.

Casino shares fell 0.8 percent to 92.38 euros as of 10:45 a.m. in Paris, paring this year’s gain to about 10 percent. Bollore shares rose 0.6 percent to 470 euros, valuing the company at almost 13 billion euros ($17.7 billion).

Bollore, based in Puteaux, France, operates businesses from freight and paper manufacturing to palm and oil plantations and Blue Solutions SA’s electric batteries. It runs transport and logistics operations in 45 African countries, from container shipping to rail and truck delivery, according to its website.

The company’s billionaire owner, Vincent Bollore, also has stakes in businesses including advertising agency Havas SA and Vivendi SA, owner of record label Universal Music Group Inc.

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