A damning report released at the end of 2015 by famed New York short-seller Muddy Waters accused Groupe Casino of falsely inflating its EBITDA partially through transactions with its real-estate affiliate Mercialys. As its shares reacted negatively to the report, the Company swiftly reacted by denying the allegations levelled against it and announced a long-term de-leveraging strategy (with a planned €2 billion debt reduction) coupled with an international diversification plan in the food sector (ex: consolidation of its South American subsidiaries; sale of its South East Asia subsidiary). The most recent iteration of this strategy is Groupe Casino’s planned global partnership with Auchan.
Despite the purported de-leveraging strategy, debt levels in 2017 soared by 23% finishing the year at €4,126M. Making matters worse is a 3.8% decline in the top-line recorded for Q1 2018. The increased debt burden will surely put strain on an already stretched balance sheet and call into question the reason behind the company’s systematic reduction in capital expenditures if it were to maintain what we perceive to be an elevated dividend (€346M in 2017). Further clarity regarding this plan would be much appreciated.
As far as regulated agreements are concerned, Groupe Casino continues to submit both new agreements as well older agreements to a vote in the same resolution. This is clearly counter to the spirit and letter of the law which calls for a separate vote on each agreement (resolution 4).
In closing, we urge shareholders to oppose the remuneration attributed to Jean-Charles Naouri, Charmain & CEO, in 2017 as well as his remuneration policy for 2018. As has historically been the case with Groupe Casino, quantum appears relatively low on a cursory look, but further analysis reveals that it fails to include the remuneration Mr. Naouri indirectly received from regulated agreements between the Company and holding companies that he controls (resolutions 5 and 6).
Casino Guichard-Perrachon is a food retailer based in France. Co. operates hypermarkets, supermarkets, discount stores, convenience stores and cafeterias. Co.'s stores are discount stores selling groceries and consumer goods, and providing services like financial and insurance services, real estate, and restaurants. Co. operates hypermarkets under the brand Geant Casino; urban and rural supermarkets under the brand Casino Supermarches; city-centre supermarkets under the brand Monoprix; convenience/national superettes under the brands Petit Casino, Vival and Spar; covenience-paris area stores under the brand Marche Franprix; and discount stores under the brand Leader Price.
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We reiterate our Buy recommendation with a target price of € 15.60. Aside from the restoration of the market’s confidence, the key point is the upcoming strategic plan expected to be unveiled at end-2019. It should be based on enhancing the operating performance and resuming value creation, which should in turn act as a catalyst for the group's re-rating. Our analysis of the various strategic options indicates a positive risk-reward profile. - ...
Item 3: Approve the Remuneration ReportThe remuneration structure is satisfactory, though accelerated vesting is possible. Potential and actual total variable remuneration exceed guidelines, but not very much. They are moderate in comparison with UK market practice. Overall, the quantum during the year was not excessive. We recommend shareholders vote in favor.
Item 3: Approve the Remuneration Report The structure is weighted more heavily towards short-term performance. One of the performance metrics for the LTI is the payment of sustainable dividends, which is not considered appropriate as executives can potentially influence the payout level. The LTI also includes relative TSR as a performance metric. Nevertheless, the quantum is not excessive and even maximum potential amounts are moderate. On balance, we recommend shareholders vote in favor. Item 4: Approve the Remuneration PolicyThe main concern with the Company's remuneration policy is that pa...
Item 2: Approve the Remuneration ReportThe remuneration structure is unsatisfactory. The main concern at the Company is that the potential maximum incentive pay including the bonus, matching shares on the deferred portion of the bonus and the LTI amounts to 1000% of base salary, which is considered grossly excessive. Actual incentive pay during the year was1.6 times the ECGS limit. Furthermore, variable remuneration is overly reliant on a single performance metric, benchmark profit before tax. A second performance criteria will be used in the coming year. We note that the Company has adjusted ...
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