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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 16:46 GMT
Embattled Carrefour boss resigns
Luc Vandevelde
Mr Vandevelde was previously chairman of Marks & Spencer
Carrefour chairman Luc Vandevelde has resigned from the supermarket giant as speculation about a takeover swirled.

Helping fan bid rumours was the news that French billionaire Bernard Arnault and private equity group Colony Capital had bought a 9.1% stake in Carrefour.

Mr Vandevelde's future had been in doubt amid rumours of disagreements with the Carrefour's most powerful shareholder, the Halley family.

He will be replaced by Robert Halley, whose family owns 13% of Carrefour.

Mr Vandevelde was previously chairman of British retail icon Marks & Spencer, and was once nicknamed "Lucky Luc" by UK analysts.

However, he quit in 2004 - citing personal commitments to the Halley family - after failing to achieve a sustained turnaround in the UK company's then troubled fortunes.

M&S has since been revived under current chief executive Stuart Rose.

'World leader'

Carrefour store in Mexico
Carrefour is second only to US retail giant Wal-Mart

Analysts said Mr Vandervelde's position had been weakened following his recent departure from the holding company of the Halley family, which controls 26% of shareholder voting rights.

A share purchase by Mr Vandevelde in February triggered speculation that the world's second biggest retailer was considering a leveraged buyout, which would expose Carrefour to higher debt levels.

The company of billionaire Bernard Arnault said its stake in Carrefour was "a strategic, industrial and long-term investment".

"Colony Capital and Groupe Arnault consider that Carrefour, a world leader in its sector, has strong potential for growth," it added.

Together with investment group Axon Capital, Groupe Arnault said the combined consortium now controlled 9.8% of Carrefour stock.

Under French laws, investors must declare their shareholding intentions once a threshold of 10% has been breached.


SEE ALSO
Wal-Mart three times rivals' size
26 Apr 06 |  Business
Carrefour boosts China presence
24 Feb 06 |  Business
Price cuts hit Carrefour profits
01 Sep 05 |  Business
Carrefour exits Japan and Mexico
10 Mar 05 |  Business
Sign of the times for Carrefour
03 Feb 05 |  Business
Carrefour confirms board changes
04 Feb 05 |  Business

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