Shareholder Move at Carrefour

Bernard Arnault is suddenly Carrefour's largest shareholder.

PARIS — Bernard Arnault is suddenly Carrefour’s largest shareholder.

This story first appeared in the March 6, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

France’s Halley family on Wednesday said it would dissolve the pact that gives its members the majority share of French hypermarket operator Carrefour. The family said it would end the agreement that gives it a 10 percent controlling stake of the company when Carrefour convenes for its annual shareholders meeting on April 15.

The move will ipso facto make Blue Capital, the investment vehicle of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief Arnault, and investment firm Colony Capital Carrefour’s largest shareholder with more than 9 percent.

Arnault and Colony acquired their “strategic” stake in Carrefour through Blue Capital last year.

A spokesman for the Halley family said the decision was not the result of animosity between family members.

Rumors circulated last year that the family was in disagreement over strategy after they forced out former Marks & Spencer head Luc Vandevelde as Carrefour’s chairman and replaced him with Robert Halley.

“The family members want to have more freedom over their investment portfolios,” the Halleys’ spokesman said of the decision. “There is no fighting.”

In a statement, Blue Capital said it would “play its role as Carrefour’s main shareholder” and that it was interested in the “group’s stability.”

“Blue Capital reiterates the strategic nature of its investment and its confidence in the management to create value for the group,” the statement said.

Carrefour was slated to report its annual results today in Paris.