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French supermarket group Casino is planning to raise €2bn (£1.5bn) next year as part of a deleveraging plan, mainly through selling off property and non-core assets. The retailer announced the action to “strengthen its financial flexibility” after the markets closed last night.

Casino intends to sell its 100%-owned Vietnamese operation, as well as other, undisclosed operations. In addition, its Thai and Colombian subsidiaries – Big C and Éxito – will sell or list a portion of their real estate holdings.

“Those transactions will create value for all shareholders and will enable both companies to pursue their development on their respective markets where they already own leading positions,” Casino said in a statement.

Analysts had mixed reactions to the plan, with Jefferies headlining a note “Extreme Measures”. “In our view, pressure on equity values has forced Casino’s hand into outlining a €2bn deleveraging plan (as EM property and business disposals feel particularly badly timed on achievable multiples),” the investment bank said.

Credit Suisse pointed out that it was not entirely clear what the ultimate use of proceeds would be. “The €2bn would reduce the debt load immediately after closing, but the CFO indicated that the funds may also be used for growth,” it added. “However, given the parameters of the debt rating agencies, we expect the bulk of the funds to be earmarked for debt reduction.”

Morning update

Northern Ireland meat giant Dunbia has reportedly put up the ‘for sale’ sign. The County Tyrone beef, lamb and pork processor has prepared a “teaser document” to be sent out to prospective buyers, according to the Belfast Telegraph. Dunbia is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest meat processors, generating revenues of almost £800m.

Former Asda CEO Tony DeNunzio has been appointed by Dixons Carphone as a senior independent director and a member of the remuneration and nominations committees. He is currently non-executive chairman of Pets at Home, non-executive director of PrimaPrix and senior adviser at Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. The retailer has also appointed former BT CEO Lord Livingston of Parkhead as deputy chairman of the board.

After rallying yesterday (see below) shares in the three listed grocers have also lost substantial parts of their gains. Tesco has opened 2.1% down to 146.2p, Sainsbury’s has fallen 1.4% to 245.8p and Morrisons is down 1.3% to 145.2p.

Yesterday in the City

The supermarket stocks underwent a much-needed rally yesterday as the latest market share data leading up to Christmas showed slighlty improved trading, with Sainsbury’s (SBRY) leading the way. The retailer outperformed the market for the third consecutive month with sales growth of 1.2%. It helped put the grocer in the top five FTSE 100 risers of the day as its shares climbed 5.2% to 249.3p.

FTSE 100 reject Morrisons (MRW) also gained 4.9% to 147.1p and Tesco (TSCO) finished 4.4% up at 149.3p. Analysts at Jefferies said: “Improving trading momentum at the Big 4 as we approach Christmas is a relief, especially in light of the previous deterioration. The positive inflection is most pronounced at Morrisons despite space and collector card headwinds. Sainsbury remains strong with LFL close to flat, while Tesco prevented further deterioration despite a tough comp. ASDA is still under pressure, while M&S grocery sales remain resilient.”

Hellenic Coke bottler Coca-Cola HBC (CCH) also had a strong day, with its shares rising 5.4% to 1,490p – just ahead of Sainsbury’s in the FTSE 100’s best performers.

The gains –along with big rises from the mining giants – helped the blue-chip index jump 2.5% to 6,017.8 points. It was the biggest one-day gain in over two months for London’s leading shares.

On a day of general upward movement for grocery and fmcg stocks, Majestic Wine (MJW) performed miserably, with its stock slumping 3.9% to 297p following a negative note from Canaccord. The investment bank moved its position from ‘under review’ to ‘hold’ and its target price to 310p – the previous price had been £1 fuller at 410p. It also cut its three-year group pre-tax profits forecast by between 20% and 30% for the wine retailer. “We have long been of the view that the ‘old’ Majestic format was suffering from a lack of innovation and was not swiftly adapting to the internet and omni-channel retailing environment,” the broker note said. “It seemed at risk of the classic retail failure of death by standing still, despite the many positive aspects of the format. The reduction in minimum order quantity from 12 to six bottles did indeed deliver renewed impetus for a while, but Majestic remained a slow adopter of best e-commerce practice and social media.”