FRENCH ISSUE: French retailer Pinault-Printemps-Redoute said Tuesday that it was launching a $977.5 million bond issue. The issue could be increased to $1.09 billion if the company exercises its increase option and to $1.25 billion if the overallotment option is exercised. Dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates. In a statement, PPR chief executive Serge Weinberg said the offer allows PPR “to diversify its source of financing, to reduce the average cost and extend the average maturity of its debt and, potentially, to strengthen shareholders equity.” PPR said the premium range of the bonds was set at 43 percent of its share price at the time final terms of the bonds are determined. The bonds will come to term four years and 255 days from the settlement date, expected to be May 21. PPR, controlled by tycoon François Pinault, has been reshaping its profile this year, shedding its business-to-business activities to concentrate on its higher margin luxury and retail operations. PPR controls Italy’s Gucci Group.

UP FOR GRABS?: It seems less likely that Tchibo will evolve from a minority to a majority shareholder in Beiersdorf, maker of Nivea. According to reports circulating Tuesday, Tchibo Holding AG’s chief executive officer, Reinhard Pollath, said the chances of the firm’s acquiring Allianz’s 43.6 percent stake in Beiersdorf “look narrower.” Tchibo executives could not be reached for comment. It has long been known that German coffee- and retail-concerned Tchibo wanted to add its 30 percent stake in Beiersdorf to that of German financial services company Allianz. If Tchibo — considered the front-runner — doesn’t bid for Allianz’s stake, the field would again be wide open for other takeover bidders. In the past, suitors reportedly included Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal.

SARS SLAMS TORONTO RETAILERS: Revenues in Toronto’s retail sector dropped $43.7 million from the period of March 5 to 30 to the March 31 to April 25 time frame, according to a study on the economic impact of SARS released Friday by Toronto-based Moneris Solutions Corp., a processor of debit and credit card transactions. U.S. dollar figures are converted from Canadian dollars at current exchange rates. The study also concluded that overall retail transactions in Toronto declined by 4.4 percent. During the latter period, the Greater Toronto Area experienced a spike in SARS cases and the World Health Organization recommended travelers avoid nonessential trips to the city. The study was based on the volume of debit and credit card transactions Moneris processed on behalf of approximately 30,000 merchants.

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