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Bernard Arnault Buys Additional Carrefour Shares

Luxury titan signals confidence in the embattled French retailer’s recovery plan.

PARIS — Luxury titan Bernard Arnault has signaled his confidence in the turnaround of Carrefour SA by buying more shares and exercising options that marginally raise his total stake in the embattled French retailer.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Blue Capital, the investment fund owned by Groupe Arnault and Colony Capital, is already Carrefour’s largest investor. It has seen the value of its investment tumble since buying into the retailer in 2007, as Carrefour has struggled to stem a slide in its mainstay European business.

In filings to French stock market regulator AMF Thursday, Blue Capital disclosed that it bought an additional 360,000 shares at 16.81 euros, or $23.16, each on Oct. 18, just days after Carrefour issued the latest in a string of profit warnings. All dollar rates are calculated at average exchange rates for the period in question.

In addition, Blue Capital exercised share options worth 17.3 million euros, or $23.8 million, a separate AMF filing showed.

A source close to Blue Capital pointed out the share purchase was very modest in relation to the group’s total holding, but said it was important on a symbolic level. “It is a signal of confidence in Carrefour’s recovery plan,” the source said.

The operation leaves Blue Capital’s stake in Carrefour broadly unchanged at around 14 percent of share capital and 20 percent of voting rights.