Carrefour in share rise on split rumours

SHARES in Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer, rose yesterday after speculation that it is considering listing stakes in its real estate and Dia discount businesses.

Shares in the French group surged 5.3 per cent to close at €35.78 following suggestions that a provisional agreement with key investors could be reached at a board meeting on 2 March.

The split could boost the value of the company, which has been hit hard in the consumer downturn.

Carrefour declined to comment.

Europe’s biggest supermarket chain might look to sell or spin off assets in an attempt to revive its share price after two profit warnings last year, according to analysts.

Colony Capital and Groupe Arnault, which hold 13.5 per cent of Carrefour, are still down on their 2007 investment, which was made at about €50 a share.

“Board members, advised by BNP Paribas are working on a simultaneous spin-off of Dia (discount) and Carrefour Property (real estate), which would both be listed in Paris,” a source told French newspaper Le Figaro.

RBS analyst Justin Scarborugh said: “There could be some value creation (for shareholders from spinning off the two businesses). But these rumors have been around for some time, and so it’s hard to know how much of this is already in the price ... Plus, there would be some earnings dilution.”