By  on March 26, 2007

PARIS — Carrefour is giving French billionaire Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and U.S. investment firm Colony Capital the two seats they asked for on the hypermarket operator's supervisory board.

The vote to grant the new investors seats was unanimous, Carrefour said in a statement.

Carrefour said Arnault and Colony, which bought 9.1 percent of the world's second-largest retailer on March 7, told the board they had "no intention to take control of Carrefour."

But the agreement allows the investors to raise their stake to 20 percent before June.

A spokesman for Arnault and Colony said the two investors' approach was friendly, and that their plan was to work with Carrefour's management on strategy.

Nonetheless, speculation has built that a power shift is imminent, especially since members of France's Halley family, which together control 13 percent of Carrefour, are said to be seeking to sell their stake. The family has retained HSBC and Lehman Brothers to advise it.

Carrefour's chairman, Luc Vandevelde, was dismissed last month.

Recent published reports said the Halleys have contacted banks in Europe to explore a divestment. And there was a report last week that Reliance Industries of India was said to be considering a bid for the family's stake.

Carrefour declined to comment.

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