The European Commission has cleared the sale of the Spanish supermarket chain El Arbol to venture capital group CVC Capital Partners, allowing the troubled Dutch retailer Laurus to concentrate on turning around its domestic business.
The loss-making Spanish arm has been something of an albatross around the neck of Laurus, which will now concentrate on improving its performance in the Netherlands and Belgium. Casino, the French supermarket group, is the majority owner of Laurus, and has welcomed the Commission's decision.
Under the terms of the deal, which was announced in the autumn, CVC will receive loans of around €54 million from Laurus to help it improve the performance of the struggling Spanish unit.
Laurus blames El Arbol in particular for its financial difficulties in recent years, although it must take some of the blame for introducing policies designed to boost sales but which in fact plunged the company further into difficulty.
However, CVC clearly sees the business as one with potential, and it will be interesting to see what the new owners decide to do with the 670 supermarkets and cash and carry outlets El Arbol operates in Spain.
Meanwhile, Casino itself is also considering increasing its stake in the Colombian firm Almacenes Exito by a further by 3.08 per cent. The deal, valued at for $13.7 million, will take Casino's stake in Colombia's biggest supermarket group to 31 per cent.