By  on May 24, 2011

PARIS — Carrefour SA has reached out to Brazilian retail group Companhia Brasileira de Distribuiçao (CBD) to discuss merging their activities in the South American country, the head of rival French supermarket operator Groupe Casino confirmed in a letter made public in the French media Tuesday.

Jean-Charles Naouri, chief executive officer of Groupe Casino, complained in the letter that Casino, which holds 33.7 percent of CBD’s capital and 50 percent of voting rights, had not been informed of the negotiations.

A spokesman for Groupe Casino confirmed the existence of the letter, addressed to Carrefour chief executive officer Lars Olofsson and Amaury de Seze, chairman of the board of directors. However, he declined to provide a copy of the missive, excerpts of which were leaked to daily Le Figaro.

Officials at Carrefour declined comment. The world’s second-largest retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last year reported writedowns at its Brazilian unit of 550 million euros, or $729.8 million, after the discovery of irregularities prompted it to replace its management team and order an audit.

According to Le Figaro, Naouri said Abílio Diniz, co-owner of CBD, which operates the popular Pão de Açucar supermarket chain, had informed him of the negotiations. Naouri said that under the terms of their agreement, all important decisions had to be taken in consultation with Casino.

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