Real hypermarkets go in the yard of Auchan

German retailer Metro AG sold its Real hypermarkets in Eastern Europe to French rival Auchan in a 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) deal. In this transaction, Metro was advised by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, while Auchan by BNP Paribas.

The deal is said to cut debt and focus on expanding its cash and carry and consumer electronics stores, according to Reuters. Following the deal, Auchan is buying 91 Real hypermarkets in Poland, Russia, Romania and Ukraine. Real has sales of over 2.6 billion euros in those four countries and employs around 20,000 people.

Auchan, the world's twelfth largest retailer, has 98 hypermarkets with more than 65,000 employees in those countries. The acquisition is its largest since it bought Docks de France in 1996. It will finance the deal with existing credit lines but is not ruling out a bond issue, said Philippe Baroukh, CEO of Auchan hypermarkets.

The deal does not include the Real businesses in Germany or Turkey. Auchan is not active in Turkey and so was not interested in those stores. Metro's management sees good growth potential for hypermarkets in Turkey and decided to keep them, Koch said, although other parties had been interested in a deal. A source close to the transaction cited Sabanci, Tesco and Koc as being interested.

Auchan, controlled by the Mulliez family, one of France's wealthiest, said the deal would double its store presence in Central and Eastern Europe, Reuters reads.

In Romania, Auchan took over 20 Real hypermarkets, making a total network of 30 hypermarkets owned in Romania. However, 4 Real hypermarkets located in Arad, Constanta, Oradea and Suceava remained within the German network, as they dind't fit the demands of French retailer. Recently, Auchan announced the opening of a new Auchan hypermarket within their poject Auchan City located in Giulesti, following an investment of EUR 20 million.