By  on August 22, 2007

PARIS — Carrefour Group said Tuesday it would retreat from the Swiss market by selling its 50 percent stake in the hypermarket operator Distributis AG.

Carrefour and its Swiss joint-venture partner Maus Frères said it would off-load Distributis to Swiss food retailer Coop in a deal valuing the firm at 470 million Swiss francs, or $388.3 million at current exchange rates. Distributis operates 12 superstores and posted sales of 504 million euros, or $679.4 million, last year.

Hampered with lackluster growth in its home market of France, the world's second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been shedding its less profitable operations to concentrate on more promising countries like Romania and Poland, and fast-growing regions like Asia and Latin America.

Last month, Carrefour revealed plans to sell its stores in Portugal to Sonae Distribuição for 662 million euros, or $913.6 million. That transaction included 12 hypermarkets and eight gas stations that operate under the Carrefour banner.

Carrefour also recently sold businesses in Japan, South Korea and Mexico, while bulking up operations in Spain and Brazil.

The moves are designed to improve profitability and growth prospects for shareholders, including LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault and U.S. buyout company Colony Capital, who together hold a 9.1 percent stake in Carrefour.

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