LAURUS FINDS UK BUYER FOR SPANISH UNIT

Dutch supermarket group Laurus has signed an initial agreement to sell its loss-making Spanish operations to CVC, the UK private equity group.

Laurus has been close to bankruptcy due to losses at the 600-store El Arbol chain and its Belgian operations, management changes and a failed store revamp. First-half pre-tax losses at the group to June 30 almost doubled to 67m euros from 2001, with sales down 11%.

CVC and Laurus are to refinance debt and provide liquidity for El Arbol, with the sale expected to be completed in mid-October.

Casino, the French retail group which bought a 37% stake in Laurus earlier this year with an option to take a controlling stake by the end of 2008.