Carrefour's Mideast Operator Is the Frontrunner in Geant Bid

Majid Al Futtaim Holding LLC, the Middle East operator of Carrefour SA stores, is the lead bidder for a controlling stake in the Geant Hypermarket chain, according to three people familiar with the matter.

MAF, as the Dubai-based conglomerate is known, was up against Saudi Arabian retailer Bindawood Holding, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is confidential. Bahrain-based private equity firm Investcorp Bank BSC acquired a stake in Bindawood last year. While MAF is close to concluding a deal, talks may still fall apart, the people said.

Privately-owned Majid Al Futtaim, whose assets include Dubai hotels and a mall featuring an indoor ski slope, is seeking acquisitions to fuel growth, Chief Executive Officer Alain Bejjani said in an interview with Bloomberg television last month. Geant, a franchise of French grocery retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA operated by Dubai-based BMA International Group, hired BNP Paribas SA to advise on the sale, which could fetch as much as $500 million, people familiar with the matter said in December.

A spokesman for MAF declined to comment on Wednesday, while officials at BMA International, which controls the Geant business in the Middle East, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Officials at Bindawood couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Geant began its Middle East operations in 2001 with a store in Bahrain. The company has stores in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to its website.

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