PARIS — The king of luxury has arrived in the supermarket aisle.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault said Wednesday that he has teamed up with Los Angeles-based private equity fund Colony Capital to take a joint 9.1 percent stake in Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart.
Groupe Arnault, which is Arnault's private investment firm, and Colony said they purchased 64 million shares of Carrefour. The cost of the investment was not disclosed, but was estimated to be more than 3.5 billion euros, or $4.59 billion at current exchange, based on recent market values.
Arnault and Colony characterized the move as a "strategic, industrial and long-term investment" based on Carrefour's leading market position and its "strong growth potential." The investors said they would work with the Halley family, Carrefour's largest shareholder, and its current management.
But news of their investment coincided with turbulence within Carrefour's management ranks. Late Wednesday, the French retailer said its embattled chairman, Luc Vandevelde, has stepped down and will be replaced by Robert Halley.
"The supervisory board thanks Luc Vandevelde for his contribution and for his decision inspired by the interests of Carrefour, its shareholders and employees," the company said in a statement.
Carrefour also confirmed its confidence in the current president of the management board José Luis Duran, who has been in that role for two years.
Carrefour is slated to report its full-year earnings today, and investors no doubt will seek clarification of future strategy.
A spokesman for Arnault declined to comment on whether the business titan planned to increase his stake in Carrefour. However, it is understood Arnault and Colony want the retailer to pursue a more aggressive strategy and improve its share performance.
Speculation about a hostile play for Carrefour has been building since the beginning of the year. That's when the Halley family began clashing with Vandevelde after he bought almost 10 million euros, or $13.1 million, of Carrefour shares in the open market.
That purchase prompted the Halleys to ask Vandevelde, who runs Change Capital Partners, the owners of Jil Sander, to step down as chief of their Citra holding company, through which they control 13 percent of Carrefour.
“I see things on the hanger and I’m, like, ‘I never knew that color worked on me.’ It’s things you necessarily wouldn’t choose to wear, but once you put them on, you see why Janie is who Janie is." — Lily Collins on working with former "Mad Men" costume designer, Janie Bryant on creating looks for her role as Celia Brady's in Amazon series, "The Last Tycoon." 📸@jilliansollazzo #wwdeye
EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Rutson has been tapped to Build New American Fashion Group. The parent of Joie, Equipment and Current/Elliott hired the merchant to rev up its brands and expand its portfolio into designer, beauty and lifestyle categories. Read more on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion
Michael Kors' $1.3B Jimmy Choo deal has the company squaring off with Coach Inc. as both seek to build American powerhouses. Coach bought Stuart Weitzman in 2015 and Kate Spade just two weeks ago, but Michael Kors' acquisition may be putting pressure on its rival in the new push for scale. #wwdnews (📷: George Chinsee)
Meet actress Lucy Boynton, who plays opposite Naomi Watts in the recently released Netflix series "Gypsy." Boynton stopped by WWD to talk about her upcoming projects and her nomadic lifestyle. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)